It was the giraffe kiss seen ’round the world, as a photograph went viral of a zoo giraffe giving a touching final farewell kiss to a man dying of brain cancer, WRIC reported on March 21.
The giraffe kiss came about when Mario Eijs wanted to say final farewells to the animals at a zoo where he had spent most of his adult life caring for the giraffes as a volunteer. It was Mario’s dying wish for one last goodbye, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The wish, if not the giraffe kiss itself, was orchestrated by the Dutch Ambulance Wish Foundation, which grants final wishes to terminally ill adults, taking them to places they’ve always dreamed of. Although Mario may not have dreamed of actually getting a giraffe kiss, he at least wanted to say goodbye to his animal friends.
With the help of Ambulance Wish Foundation, Mario Eijs arrived on a gurney at the Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he had worked for some 25 years, Fox News reported. Mario, 54, was wheeled to the giraffe enclosure, and the curious animals gathered around.
That’s when the giraffe kiss took place, when one of the giraffes came right up to Mario, leaned over a barrier and gently nuzzled him on the cheek in a soft kiss — an endearing farewell, indeed.
“We still do not believe that ‘the kiss of the giraffe’ has caused all this,” the Ambulance Wish Foundation wrote on its Facebook page, noting that the photo of the giraffe kiss has been picked up by media around the world. The foundation said that giraffe kiss, which took place on March 19, gave everyone who witnessed it goose bumps as the large creature gently nuzzled the dying man.