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Disney will replace hippo statue stolen from girl’s grave in Hudson

In life, Erin Roderick held close a stuffed purple hippopotamus. In death, her grave in Hudson was marked by a statue of Hyacinth the hippo, the Disney character whose likeness Erin’s mother chose for the 4-year-old’s burial plot.

But on June 23, the purple hippo — adorned with a tutu, meant to honor Erin’s aspiration to one day become a ballerina — went missing. Michelle Roderick wrote to local newspapers. There was outrage that someone would abscond with a statue from the grave of a child whose life was taken by a brain tumor.

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After dozens of requests from strangers, representatives from Walt Disney World reached out to Michelle Roderick Friday with this promise: We will uncover the mold used to make Hyacinth, create a new statue, and paint it purple.

“I’m so overwhelmed,” Michelle Roderick said, “by the outpouring of people who contacted Disney on Erin’s behalf.”

Roderick is loath to put the new statue in the cemetery, concerned it could be stolen again, so she plans to keep it at home, where she knows it will be safe.

Still, she hopes the original statue will be returned.

“I don’t know why you’re worrying,” her 10-year-old son tells her. “It will come back.”

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