Dying Zoo Worker Receives Goodbye Kiss From Giraffe

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The dying wish of a terminally ill man was granted when he got one last chance to visit his former place of employment, Rotterdam's Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo, where he was given a bittersweet kiss good-bye from one of the giraffes.
Mario Eijs worked in maintenance at the zoo, cleaning animal enclosures and doing other odd jobs for almost 25 years, as reported by The Independent.


The Ambulance Wish Foundation (AWF) granted Eijs's wish to return to the zoo. The 54-year-old has terminal cancer with little mobility and was wheeled to the giraffe enclosure in his hospital bed. The giraffes responded by nuzzling Eijs and offering kisses. The moments were captured in photos that AWF posted on their Facebook page, which then went viral.

"These animals recognized him and felt that [things aren't] going well with him," said Kees Veldboer, AWF's founder. "[It was] a very special moment. You saw him beaming."

Eijs was also able to say goodbye to his coworkers at the zoo. Eijs has difficulty speaking but "his face spoke volumes," according to AWF.

The AWF is able to grant last wishes to terminally ill patients with the help of 200 volunteers. The organization transports those it assists by using specially designed ambulances.

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