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Terminally-Ill Zoo Worker gets a Goodbye Kiss from Giraffes [ Video]

Mar 22, 2014 05:08 AM EDT
A giraffe seen kissing Mario, a brain tumor patient. Mario worked at the Dutch zoo for 25 years. His last wish was to see the animals that he cared for. Ambulance Wish Foundation volunteers helped make his wish come true by wheeling him into the zoo March 17, 2014.
(Photo : Ambulance Wish Foundation)

Mario, a 54-year-old terminally ill cancer patient got a heart-warming goodbye kiss from giraffes. Mario worked at the Rotterdam's Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo as a maintenance man for 25 years, according to media reports. He is a mentally disabled man and has brain tumor.

A recently-released video shows giraffes tugging and kissing the dying man in a zoo in Netherland.

Mario wanted to go to the zoo for the last time for his birthday in April. His wish to celebrate his birthday with his colleagues and the animals came true March 19, when he was wheeled into the zoo by volunteers of the  Ambulance Wish Foundation (AWF).

According to a post on AWF, Mario is largely paralyzed now and has difficulty in speaking. However, his face spoke volumes.

The shy animals that he took care of for several years came out to meet him. One giraffe nuzzled him as "a final salute to each other ... where all bystanders got goosebumps," the post read.

These animals recognised him, and felt that (things aren't) going well with him," Kees Veldboer, the founder of AWF told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, according to the Independent. "(It was) a very special moment. You saw him beaming."

AWF has 200 volunteers who help make wishes of dying patients come true, The Independent reported.

Can animals sense illness and death? 

Previous research has shown that doctors are good at detecting cancers.

According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Oscar, a cat, can predict when a person is about to die. Oscar was adopted as a kitten by staff members at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The generally unsociable cat apparently spends time only with patients who have got just hours to live. He has predicted deaths of some 50 patients. See a video about Oscar, here.

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