A 54-year-old Dutch zoo worker with terminal cancer got his last wish this week. It was a goodbye from some of his favorite animals.
The visit resulted in a touching photo of a “giraffe kiss” that has been shared thousands of times on Facebook, the Rotterdam newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported (translated via Google Translate).
According to the Netherland’s Ambulance Wish Foundation (translated via Google Translate), the mentally disabled man, who was only identified as Mario, worked as a janitor at the Rotterdam Zoo for 25 years. The foundation made his wish come true Wednesday.
“Mario is largely paralyzed and speaking was very difficult. However, his face spoke volumes,” a blog post by the foundation explained.
Mario visited all areas of the zoo, but his “final salute” came in the form of a sniff and a lick from a curious giraffe.
“… all bystanders got goosebumps,” the foundation stated. “Exhausted, but full of great memories we have Mario back to the nursing home.”
Kees Veldboer, the foundation’s founder and director, told Algemeen Dagblad the visit was especially touching because the animals seemed aware that Mario was not doing well.