Pandemic-friendly inflatable hippo ballerina costume is selling like hotcakes after nursing home debut

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A sudden run in an inflatable hippopotamus ballerina costume may represent the desperation American families are experiencing to get close to loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.

An example of how the costume helped a family member get around social distancing restrictions was seen last week at the Fox Trails Senior Living Home in Stephens City, Virginia.

“My mother-in-law hugging my grandmother in an inflatable hippo suit wearing a tutu is the content you needed today. Her nursing home is letting family members hug each other in these sterilized suits,” tweeted Nick Bolerjack.

As her daughter approaches her wearing the hippo tutu, the elderly woman is heard exclaiming, “This is wonderful!”

The women then share an emphatic hug.

Bolerjack’s daughter shared a couple of up close shots of the touching moment on social media, tagging “The Ellen Show.”


The staff at the nursing home reportedly came up with the idea to use sterilized hippo costumed to allow family members to hug residents.

According to TMZ, online costume retailer HalloweenCostume.com sold around 75 of the hippo ballerina costumes in 2019, but have sold 450 so far this year.

Nursing homes have been hard hit by COVID-19, with many being completely locked down, allowing no visitors. There have been countless stories of elderly people dying in isolation, as there family is not allowed to be at their side.

There have been other creative efforts to allow for hugs, with a “hug shield,” or “hug curtain,” being one of the more popular ideas.

Here’s a sampling of responses to the inflatable hippo costume idea from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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