On Wednesday, March 19, a giraffe kissed a dying man at Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo in Holland goodbye.
The 54-year-old Mario Eijs, known only as Mario, had a mental disability as well as terminal cancer. He had developed a brain tumor, which caused him difficulty with both walking and speaking.
Mario had worked at the zoo doing miscellaneous and odd jobs for 25 years, according to the Associated Press. Mario requested to be brought to Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he had spent the majority of his life, to say goodbye to the animals and his co-workers.
Mario had his hospital bed wheeled into the giraffe enclosure. When he was brought into their exhibit, the giraffes became highly curious. Remembering the man and sensing that he wasn’t well, one of the giraffes licked Mario on the nose, a kiss that had onlookers in awe.
“You could see him totally light up,” said Kees Veldboer, founder and director of the foundation.
The charity is run by volunteers who specialize in taking non-mobile and terminally ill patients to fulfill their dying wishes. The ambulances the charity uses are specially designed with long windows, so patients can watch the scenery during transportation.