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Monday, April 30 12:00 AM ET

Hampton the "Dancing Hamster" Dies

By Dale Tudge

San Jose, CA - Hampton The Dancing Hamster, the animated little rodent that lit up millions of monitors in 1999, has sadly passed away. Hampton, one of the animal kingdom's first Internet celebrities, died suddenly in his Silicon Valley Habitrail home.

HamptonThe bouncing little fur-ball was eight-years-old, which is apparently pretty good for a hamster.

Hampster Dance fever took the Internet by storm in the late 1990's, propelling Hampton The Dancing Hamster to a cult celebrity status. By early 2001, Hampton had become an Internet phenomenon and a web legend.

Living the good life on a diet of filtered water and gourmet sunflower seeds, Hampton went on to star in several Flash animations, Shockwave videos, and a few web-based games.

But in 2004, Hampton's career began to spiral downward after he refused to be rendered in full 3-D. He left the Hampster Dance team, reneging on a three-year contract, and turning down a part in an upcoming Stuart Little movie.

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Rumors speculate that Hampton died of a heart attack, triggered by the exhausting demands during the filming of a comeback dance video for YouTube.

Cheeky to the end, Hampton was a hamster to be admired. Hampton overcame many tragedies in his life--his parents were swallowed by snakes, and he lost his only sister in a terrible lab experiment.

" He's probably running on that hamster wheel in the sky, singing Da Da De Do De Do De Do," said one emotional web surfer. "Hampton led his life the way he wanted to, refusing to be caged."

Hampton's funeral was a quiet and somber affair, except for a four-second audio tribute that just kept playing over and over again, until everyone eventually got sick of it.

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