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Giraffe Kisses Dying Zoo Worker Goodbye (VIDEO)

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A giraffe kisses dying zoo worker Mario goodbye

Ambulance Wish Foundation/Whitehotpix/ZUMA

updated 03/24/2014 at 02:15 AM EDT

originally published 03/23/2014 03:00PM

Mario is a 54-year-old mentally handicapped man who worked at the Rottermam Zoo in the Netherlands for 25 years. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he wanted to bid farewell to the animals he'd spent his life with.

And they wanted to say goodbye to him, too.

The Dutch Ambulance Wish Foundation (similar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation) brought Mario to the zoo on a stretcher, and one of the zoo's giraffes stretched down and nuzzled his face from its pen.

The AWF was founded by Kees Veldboer, who takes such an active hand in his organization's wish-granting that he drives the ambulance that ferries patients back and forth himself.

Mario apparently passed away on March 20, 2014, according to the AWF's YouTube video.

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