A dying zoo volunteer was able to bid a final farewell to the animals he loved thanks to a Dutch non-profit organization, a gesture that produced the touching moment captured above.
Mario, 54, helped feed and clean animals at the Rotterdam Zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands for 25 years despite a mental disability. He’s now in the final stages of his battle with terminal cancer, paralyzed and mostly unable to speak. But the Ambulance Wish Foundation (similar to America’s Make-A-Wish Foundation) was able to organize one final trip through the zoo so he could bid farewell to all of its residents.
One giraffe took the opportunity to nuzzle and lick Mario’s face, a touching moment that was photographed and shared on Ambulance Wish Foundation’s Facebook page. Despite the restrictions caused by his brain tumor, Mario was able to show his gratitude:
“You could see him totally light up,” said Kees Veldboer, the Ambulance Wish Foundation’s founder and director.
Veldboer said bystanders got “goosebumps” when the giraffe licked Mario’s face. “It’s very special to see that those animals recognise him, and sense that he isn’t doing well,” said Veldboer.
You might want to makes sure your tissue box is handy before viewing the full size photos below.