Heartbreaking: Giraffe Kisses Dying Zookeeper

Northern European countries have lately been making headlines about giraffes — primarily due to their controversial policy of euthanizing healthy zoo giraffes to prevent inbreeding. But today, the European giraffes are making headlines for something different. In a heartbreaking scene, Dutch giraffes give kisses and say farewell to a terminally-ill cancer patient who spent his entire adult life caring for them.

A 54-year old man, known only as Mario, was able to fulfill his dying wish to say goodbye to the animals he considered family, thanks to the Dutch equivalent of the American Make-a-Wish Foundation. Known as the Ambulance Wish Foundation, the organization arranged with the Dutch Zoo to have Mario wheeled into the giraffes’ enclosure so he could bid them farewell.

The reunion was deeply touching to those who witnessed it. Kees Veldboer, the founder of the Ambulance Wish Foundation, watched as the giraffes clearly recognized Mario even though he was horizontal and wrapped in blankets. In a snapshot that has stirred emotions across cyberspace, Mario lies in his hospital bed while one of his giraffes leans over, sniffs him and then plants a big wet lick on his cheek.

The Ambulance Wish Foundation specializes in taking terminally-ill patients one last time to places they loved or have always wanted to see.

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Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brown9 months ago

thanks for sharing :)

Angev GERIDONIabout a year ago

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions :
1) Care 2
2) PeticaoPublica.com

Thank you for sharing

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapaabout a year ago

Thank you

Rhonda C.
Rhonda B.about a year ago

I saw this touching story and photo a little while ago. I agree with Francesca....sad, but beautiful.....and hard to stop the from crying.

Francesca A-S
Past Member about a year ago

This is incredibly sad, but beautiful. (Now I just have to try not to cry)

Kathryn M.
Kathryn M.1 years ago


Alexa Turton
Alexa Turton1 years ago

you gotta love animals

Ramhit Oumar
Oumar R1 years ago

that was sad enough that he was 54 years old. kudos for curing our anxiety

Joshua Breeze
Joshua Breeze1 years ago

So sweet.
It further illustrates that animals have a knowledge of feelings.
God's bless the animal and it's minder.

Jane R.
Jane R.1 years ago

Ranhit O. - You totally missed the point. Negative comments on a story that is now two months old are not necessary and show your true character.