In a poignant display of love between a zoo keeper and animals, a photo of a giraffe kissing the terminally ill zoo employee has gone viral.
Mario, the 54-year-old ailing zoo keeper who has been working around 25 years cleaning the giraffe enclosure at Rotterdam's Diergaarde Blijdrop Zoo, asked to be brought to the enclosure one last time to bid the animals adieu.
His hospital bed was wheeled into Diergaarde Blijdrop then one of the giraffes walked to the sick zoo keeper and seemed to place a kiss on Mario's head.
Kees Veldboer, the director and founder of Ambulance Wish Foundation which organised Mario's good-bye, said the animals recognised their caretaker and felt that things are not okay for the man. The foundation is known for making possible the last wishes of dying people.
Mario, a mentally disabled person, said good-bye also to his co-employees at the zoo after the giraffe's buss.
When the image, first printed in a Dutch newspaper, was posted in YouTube, the video has received more than 35,000 views after one day.
The story is refreshing to read considering that in the last few weeks, two long-necked animals were also in the news. Both giraffes were named Marius.
The first one used to live in Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark, but was used as feed to lions after it was culled in front of children to avoid in-breeding.
The second, found at the Jyllands Park Zoo in Western Denmark, was planned to be slaughtered to prevent fights among male giraffes because of a plan to bring in a female giraffe. However, because the plan to bring the female was stopped, Marius' life was spared.