In a truly poignant moment, a giraffe bid a tearful farewell to a terminally ill zookeeper who had dedicated his life to caring for the magnificent animals at a zoo in the Netherlands.
The 54-year-old maintenance worker, Mario, had spent his entire adult life cleaning the giraffe enclosure at Rotterdam’s Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo.
Afflicted by terminal cancer, he expressed a heartfelt wish to be wheeled into the giraffe enclosure in his hospital bed.
In a scene that tugged at the heartstrings, one of the giraffes approached Mario and tenderly kissed him goodbye as if sensing his condition.
The emotional encounter moved everyone present, including Kees Veldboer, the founder of the Ambulance Wish Foundation, which made Mario’s final wish possible.
Veldboer explained, “These animals recognized him and felt things weren’t going well. It was an extraordinary moment. You saw him beaming.”
After the touching farewell with the giraffes, Mario, who is mentally disabled, he requested a moment to bid farewell to his colleagues at the zoo.
This gesture was a testament to the deep connection he had formed with the zoo and its staff during his many years of service. Veldboer remarked, “It was very nice that we were able to work on the last wish of this man.”
The Ambulance Wish Foundation, a charitable organization founded in 2007 by Kees Veldboer, specializes in fulfilling the dying wishes of non-mobile terminally ill patients.
Veldboer himself drives the foundation’s fleet of ambulances, which are specially designed with large windows, allowing patients to enjoy the view as they are transported.
The foundation’s compassionate volunteers strive to bring comfort and happiness to patients in their final moments, going above and beyond to make their wishes come true.
Last year, the charity fulfilled the heartfelt wish of an 86-year-old man by taking him back to his farm in Oss, Holland, so he could bid farewell to his beloved ponies.
In moments like these, the power of compassion and the profound connection between humans and animals are beautifully showcased, reminding us of the importance of empathy and cherishing the moments that touch our hearts.
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