Many believe animals can sense when a human they love has a terminal illness. We found a moving story from the Guardian UK that highlights the special bond that can form when a dying man is reunited with the animals he loved.
Mario, a terminally ill zoo worker’s final wish was to be reunited with the animals he cared for.
He asked to be taken to the giraffe house where he spent most of his adult life cleaning their enclosures, despite having a mental disability.
When Mario was wheeled in to see the animals, the giraffes began to approach him to say goodbye by nuzzling and kissing him. Veldboer said Mario was paralyzed and could not speak but “his face spoke volumes. The animals recognized him, and felt things aren’t going well with him.”
“It was a very special moment. You saw him beaming.” said Kees Veldboer, the founder of the Dutch non-profit organization Ambulance Wish Foundation, which transported Mario to the zoo. Like the American-based Make-A-Wish foundation, the AWF makes the last wishes of terminally ill patients come true.
Studies have suggested animals can sense illness in humans, including diseases with no external symptoms.
A 2007 study in The New England Journal of Medicine tells the story of Oscar, a cat who could identify people who were dying of a terminal illness at a nursing home. Oscar could predict a patient’s death by curling up on their bed and holding vigil until they passed, which was often only a few hours later.
Oscar sitting with a patient became a sign that there time on earth was drawing to a close, which gave the staff time to notify their family. Oscar presided over the passing of 25 residents during his time at the home.