Giraffe ‘kisses’ dying zoo worker goodbye in touching photo

Posted at 3:07 PM, Mar 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-22 15:07:36-04

NETHERLANDS — A touching photo showing a dying zoo worker appearing to get a “kiss” from one of his favorite animals has gone viral.

According to Dutch News, Mario, 54, worked for the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands for many years. He was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Mario spent most of his life cleaning the animal enclosures at the zoo.

Before Mario died, he asked to say goodbye to the animals he cared for.

A Dutch organization called Ambulance Wish Foundation helped grant Mario’s wish by taking him to the zoo on March 19 for his birthday. He was wheeled around the giraffe enclosure and that’s when one of the giraffes came up and gave him a kiss goodbye.

“It was a very special moment. You saw him smile,” said Kees Veldboer, director of Ambulance Wish. ‘It was special that the animals knew him and could sense all was not well with him.”