Little Ponderosa’s day of thanks was special

  • James Cox, center, cuts the ribbon to the new barn at Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue during Saturday’s “Community Day.”

  • Don Elledge

The 2019 version of “Community Day” at Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue Saturday was …

A little more: Special; heartfelt; needed.

In December, 2017, Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue’s main building burned to the ground.

“This is the fourth one of these James (Cox) has asked me to do,” Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Don Elledge said during opening ceremonies. “And this one may be one of the most emotional.”

James Cox, founder and owner of the animal rescue operation, was devastated following that December fire. At the time he said he didn’t know if he could on; didn’t know if he wanted to go on.

“James lost 40 children in that fire,” Elledge said. “Because all of these animals are his children.”

But Cox did go on — even in those darkest days immediately following the fire he was rounding up food and supplies, blankets, temporary shelter, whatever was needed for the animals in still in his care.

And he was spurred on by a community that wouldn’t let him give up.

Donations flooded the zoo and rescue, fundraisers were held not just in Anderson County, but throughout the region; children sent letters with $100 bills taped to them.

And James Cox moved forward. In the spring of 2018 a special ceremony was held to commemorate the animals lost in that December blaze and new animals have found a home at Little Ponderosa.

“This is a special day,” Cox said Saturday. “And the turnout …”

Cox shouldn’t be surprised about the turnouts for the annual “Community Day.” Each year he sets a new high mark for the number of people attending.

“They’re running the shuttle bus and as soon as they back there’s 100 people waiting,” Cox said. “I really didn’t expect this.”