TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - An all-hands search is underway at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for a pink stuffed bear with significant sentimental value to the family who lost it. Willian Gamez bought the bear on his newborn daughter's birthday.
“My daughter, Laylah, she was born St. Paddy's Day last year… That day that she was born, I bought her that bear,” Willian said. “She was always with it. Her [big] sister loved it. Her sister was always trying to take it from her.”
In May, Laylah got sick. In June, at 3 months old, she passed away.
Ever since, the family has held the little pink Teddy bear close, as a reminder of Laylah.
“When she passed away in June, we kept the bear. We put it on the shelf and then her sister wanted it. So we let her sister have it and every time she would look at it, she would say, ‘sissy, sissy,’ and it would make her feel closer, I guess,” Willian said.
This weekend, the couple took their daughter to Busch Gardens and the pink Teddy came along. But about three hours into their day, they realized it was gone.
"We noticed the bear was missing. We were around Falcon's Fury where the elephants are. We stopped and looked and were like, 'Where's the bear?' and I went back, looking around everywhere. I couldn't find it," Willian said.
They checked with lost and found, but it wasn't there.
Now they hope someone found and will return it. In a post on a Tampa yard sale Facebook group, Gamez wrote a plea for the lost bear's return.
"Me and my fiancé went to Busch Gardens Saturday and lost this pink teddy bear. Nobody has turned it in and this is very sentimental to us," he wrote. "We got this after our daughter passed away. Whoever has it can you please return it."
The team at Busch Gardens was told about the missing bear and launched a search of the whole park. As of this writing, the bear had not been located.
"It hurt. It felt like I lost her a second time," Willian said. 'That's why I'd really like it back. That way, I can feel like I have her back."
Anyone who believes they saw the bear or may have found it can email firstname.lastname@example.org.