Mario Eijs, 54, passed away two days ago from brain cancer.
Earlier, to fulfill his dying wish, the Ambulance Wish Foundation had taken Mario to the Rotterdam Zoo giraffe enclosure.
Foundation director Kees Veldboer said the animals recognised the zookeeper and immediately sensed he wasn’t doing well.
According to Mario’s colleagues, he was well-known by all the animals.
Mario had been working in the Dutch zoo for over 25 years and the enclosure holding the giraffes was the one under his especial care. Last week when Mario was brought there in his hospital bed, the giraffe (photo) approached him as soon as he was wheeled in, and nuzzled his face.
Source: Summarized from article in Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, ‘Giraffenman Mario overleden‘ (24 March 2014)
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RIP Mario Eijs.
Even wild animals know to mourn the sadness of passing.