Heart-breaking pictures have emerged of the moment a giraffe said goodbye to a terminally ill zoo worker, who had spent most of his adult life cleaning the animal’s enclosures.
Maintenance worker Mario has terminal cancer and had asked to be taken into the giraffe enclosure at Rotterdam’s Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo.
The 54-year-old was wheeled into the enclosure on his hospital bed. Within minutes, the giraffes approached him and began to nuzzle and kiss him.
The Ambulance Wish Foundation, which transported Mario to the zoo, said Mario has little mobility and finds speaking very difficult. “However, his face spoke volumes”, they said.
“These animals recognised him, and felt that (things aren’t) going well with him,’ Kees Veldboer, the founder of the AWF told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
“(It was) a very special moment. You saw him beaming.”
Mario, who has a mental disability, was also given the chance to say goodbye to his colleagues at the zoo, where he has worked for almost 25 years.