A man dying with cancer who worked at a Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp), where he worked for half his life, returned to say goodbye on to his beloved animals. Lying in a hospital bed placed in the giraffe habitat, the 54-year-old man, identified as only Mario, waited for the animals to approach.
In this heart-warming photograph, one giraffe appears to understand his plight, and kisses Mario.
“You could see him totally light up,” said Kees Veldboer, founder and director of Ambulance Wish Foundation, which arranged the farewell. “It’s very special to see that those animals recognize him, and sense that he isn’t doing well,” he told Rotterdam newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
Mario, who has a mental disability due to a brain tumor, spent nearly his entire life working as a maintenance man at the zoo.
After the touching encounter, he then bid farewell to his colleagues, the charity reported.