Dying Zoo Keeper Receives Goodbye Kiss From Giraffe


A dying zoo keeper at the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands received a goodbye kiss from a giraffe after he was brought back to the zoological garden to see the animals one last time. Mario, 54 had worked at the zoo as a cleaner for 25 years and, after the Dutch Ambulance Wish Foundation brough the mentally handicapped man on a stretcher, one of the giraffes reached down and offered him consolation. The touching moment which showed that the animal felt the man was not feeling well became viral immediately after news broke.

News that a dying zoo keeper received a goodbye kiss from a giraffe circumnavigated the planet thanks to the animal’s reaction when seeing the cleaner for the last time. Mario has spent a quarter of century cleaning the animal enclosures at the zoo and he wished to see them one last time, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kees Veldboer, director of Ambulance Wish stated that not only the moment was special, but also the fact “that the animals knew him and could sense all was not well with him.” The Ambulance Wish Foundation stated that, even if Mario has little mobility and cannot speak properly, his face when the giraffe gave him a kiss “spoke volumes.” Veldboer told Algemeen Dagblad that all the animals recognized him and felt something was wrong with him.

Animals’ Sharp Senses

Apart from saying goodbye to the beloved animals, Mario could also talk to his colleagues for one last time, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The Ambulance Wish Foundation has 200 volunteers who help transform the patients’ last wish into reality by transporting them in special ambulances. The dying zoo keeper who received a goodbye kiss from a giraffe is not the only case in which animals feel illness in humans, no matter if they suffer from conditions with visible symptoms or not.

Such as example is a labrador retriever who, in 2010, was trained to detect people with bowel cancer and other dogs have been taught to identify people with lung cancer. Moreover, a study carried out in 2007 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a cat that could detect people dying of terminal illnesses at a nursing home. Oscar the cat stood by 25 people until their last moment, which allowed the physicians to spot patients who only had hours to live.

The charity offered Mario the chance to say goodbye not only to his colleagues, but also to the beloved animals that kept him company for the past 25 years. Sensing that the man was not feeling well, a giraffe reached down and offered consolation to Mario, thus giving him a moment to remember. Veldboer saw how the zoo keeper’s face started beaming after he was offered a kiss from an animal close to his heart and described the moment as “special.”

A dying zoo keeper who was diagnosed with terminal cancer was taken to the zoo where he worked for 25 years to say goodbye to his colleagues and animals, but instead he received a kiss from a giraffe, a gesture which instantly became viral and caused people all over the world to get goose bumps.

By gabriela Motroc


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One Response to "Dying Zoo Keeper Receives Goodbye Kiss From Giraffe"

  1. Karina Wright (@karinagw)   March 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    /sarcasm begins Congratulations on not succumbing to showing us the image that is the subject of your first paragraph. /sarcasm ends. No cookie.


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