Family lose toy elephant with son’s ashes inside on Disney trip


A family lost a toy elephant with their son’s ashes inside during a trip to Disney World in Florida.

Gabryel Atkinson died before the trip to Florida having spent time in intensive care after undergoing more than 50 surgeries and procedures.

His toy elephant, Bruce, was given to him during his time in hospital and he “slept with it every night” according to his mother, Liz Atkinson.

The US-based Atkinson family kept Gabryel’s ashes in a small bag, placed inside the pouch on Bruce’s back.

Toy elephant Bruce with Gabryel's ashes inside
Image: Pic: Liz Atkinson/Facebook

On the Disney World trip, the grieving parents took Bruce and Gabryel’s ashes with them, in a bid to pay homage to him while also celebrating the birthday of their surviving son, Sebastyan.

Ms Atkinson has now launched a “desperate” appeal on Facebook after realising the plushie was no longer with them after returning home from the Florida visit.

The memento, which she and her husband kept “in bed” with them before the holiday, was nowhere to be seen after searching “everywhere” and “every bag”.

She feels “sick” and is “struggling to sleep” after the loss, she added.

In her social media plea, Ms Atkinson listed the places the family travelled to and stayed at – having said she called each one, including filling in a lost and found form on Disney’s page – yet there was still no sign of Bruce.

The mother admitted to having trouble remembering simple tasks on the trip because of her grief for Gabryel and the “hectic” nature of the family holiday.

However, she recalled Bruce was with them on a Cocoa Beach parasailing excursion in Florida, with Sebastyan holding the toy on the boat.

She said: “This is where the trip gets hazy in my memory due to emotions and grief. Thinking back, I don’t recall Sebastyan bringing him back to our vehicle.”

With the help of the Cocoa Beach Marina, though, the mum has been able to confirm the elephant had made it to their car and onwards to their next destination of Disney Springs Resort.

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She now believes it was misplaced either at The Palazzo Hotel nearby or at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (AOA).

The mum added: “[Bruce] either fell out in the orange parking ramp, somewhere at the Palazzo or if he made it into AOA – potentially was mixed into bedding that was changed by housekeeping.

“If you’ve found Bruce or saw him around any of these locations, please PM me!!! I need him back.”

Her plea, posted only a couple of days ago, has received more than 10,000 shares and more than 700 comments.