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Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

The love story of Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński. First date with tigers

Hanna Jurczak and Antoni Gucwiński They were 24 years old when they met in the summer of 1956 during a student internship at the Wrocław Zoo. Antoni studied zootechnics at the Krakow University of Agriculture, and Hanna at the University of Agriculture and Technology in Olsztyn. They liked each other immediately.

They spent their first date at the tiger enclosure, which quickly became their favorite place at the zoo. It was there, before the end of the summer, that they promised themselves that they would do everything to return to Wrocław. A year later, they both started working in the local zoo.

Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński got married in 1962, and four years later they were entrusted with managing the Wrocław zoo, where they had already lived. Their office apartment was teeming with life – it was full of monkey babies rejected by their mothers, lion cubs requiring care, talking parrots and turtles.

“In our house, the differences between humans and animals have become so blurred that I wouldn't be surprised if one day my chimpanzee Bobi started talking to me in a human voice. I probably wouldn't even notice it,” joked Antoni Gucwiński in an interview with ” “Echo of the Day”.

“We have suffered a lot of bad things from people in our lives. Animals have never let us down. They are faithful, tender and loving, and we simply try to repay them for their selfless friendship and love.“- added Hanna.

Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński were considered an exceptionally harmonious couple. Although there were minor arguments between them, they were usually minor things.

“For example, we have never argued about money. My husband keeps all our money. Sometimes I don't even know how much I earn, but I consider it a luxury that I don't have to worry about financial matters,” Hanna Gucwińska confessed in an interview for “Sukces”.

“I am a supplier and a home cashier,” confirmed Antoni, adding half jokingly, half seriously that for his wife money only matters when she spends it.

They spent whole days together, but sometimes they needed a moment of solitude to, as Antoni put it, be alone with themselves.

“We have our rooms, our spaces, which we carefully guard. There are moments when you just want to be alone. Sometimes I see that my wife resents me when I lock myself in the four walls of my own office, but I know she understands me. Tolerance for your partner's individual quirks is very important in marriage. We learned it a long time ago” – said the director of the ZOO.

After several dozen years of living together, Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński described themselves as good friends in love with animals.

“Do we love each other? Love is at the beginning. Later, friendship becomes more important in marriage. You can't be unconsciously in love all your life,” Hanna Gucwińska confessed in “Sukces”.

“In marriages that work together, just like us, husband and wife become, first of all, partners, friends. Our private life has always been dominated by work. It was work that gave the greatest satisfaction, it was it that allowed people to experience the most wonderful moments that were alien to those who work separately,” added Antoni.

In the early 1990s, Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński became the owners of a beautiful house in Biskupin in Wrocław. However, they could not live away from the animals for long and quickly returned to the zoo. For over a decade, their spacious villa stood empty. They only moved in in 2006, when they were forced to resign from managing the zoo.

Earlier, in 2002, TVP ended broadcasting their program and broke off cooperation.

The authorities of Wrocław did not find it appropriate to thank Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński for forty years of work in the city zoo. The creators of the popular TV programs “With a Camera Among Animals” and “Friends from the ZOO” were suddenly dismissed from work and had to leave their company apartment. Fortunately, they had a place to go – they lived in their house in Biskupin.

Hanna and Antoni Gucwiński never regretted for a moment that they devoted their lives to animals.

“Fate has prevented me from experiencing the taste of motherhood. However, when I look at our four-legged children, I think I know what it feels like to be a mother,” said Hanna Gucwińska in an interview for “Echa Dnia”.

Towards the end of their lives, the Gucwiński family withdrew from public life. Antoni Gucwiński died suddenly on December 8, 2021. Hanna outlived him by less than 2 years. She passed away on November 12, 2023. The Gucwińskis were buried next to each other. They are buried in the Avenue of Merit at the Osobowicki cemetery in Wrocław.

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