‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ is a biographical war drama film that tells the story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews by giving them shelter in the Warsaw Zoo during World War 2. Based on Diane Ackerman’s book of the same name, the film is directed by Niki Caro and is naturally set in the beautiful city of Warsaw in Poland.
Juxtaposing tranquil images of the Warsaw Zoo with brutal scenes of the German invasion of Poland, the 2017 film is a visually stunning portrayal of a dark yet inspiring story. If you’re curious about where the filmmakers recreated the historical backdrops of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife,’ we’ve got the answers you’re looking for.
The Zookeeper’s Wife Filming Locations
Despite being based in the Polish capital of Warsaw, ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ was filmed in the Czech Republic. The majority of the filming took place in the capital city of Prague. The Czech Republic and other nearby countries are often used to depict World War 2 Warsaw since the city was extensively destroyed during the war, leaving very little pre-war architecture to use as a backdrop for filming.
Filming of the animals that feature in the movie began on September 9, 2015, before full-scale filming was initiated. Principal photography for the film started on September 29, 2015, and wrapped up after two months on November 29, 2015. Let’s take a closer look at the filming locations of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife.’
Prague, the Czech Republic
The majority of the film was shot on location in the city of Prague. The city has a well-preserved Old Town, the historic city center, which provided a lot of the authentic-looking backdrops for the movie. The Exhibition Grounds (Výstaviště exhibition grounds), located at 170 00, Praha 7 near the city center and the nearby Stromovka park (Královská obora) in Bubeneč district, were used to portray the World War 2 era Warsaw Zoo.
Scenes depicting Jews being taken to concentration camps were likely shot in the Prague main railway station (Praha hlavni nadrazi), located at Wilsonova 300/8, 120 00 Vinohrady. The historic 19th-century building, which was formerly a bank and now houses the Boscolo Prague Hotel was also one of the filming locations. It is located at Senovazne Namesti 13 and is now called the Hotel NH Collection Prague Carlo IV.
Production was briefly moved outside of Prague, most notably to the Josefov Fortress in Jaromer, East Bohemia. The 18th-century fortress was used to depict the Warsaw Ghetto. Other parts of World War 2 era Warsaw were depicted by using the historic town of Žatec in Louny District as the shooting site.