There will be an outdoor memorial ceremony for James Michael Cox, founder of the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue, on Saturday.
Cox, 61, of Clinton, died Tuesday at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville.
The memorial is scheduled from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 13 (see the flyer above). In place of flowers, Cox’s family is asking that you honor his legacy and work by donating to the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue at 629 Granite Rd, Clinton, TN 37716, or through the website at www.littleponderosazoo.com.
“Our hearts are broken and our lives forever changed,” the zoo posted online this week. “There aren’t words to express what this man meant to us, to our community, and to the animal and rescue community…His devotion to animals was a lifelong passion surpassed only by his love of family and friends.”
Little Ponderosa Zoo is a nonprofit exotic animal rescue and zoo located on Granite Road in Anderson County. The zoo has rescued animals from across the United States, and about 98 percent of the animals are rescues. The zoo said it provides a safe and secure home for abandoned, abused, and neglected exotic and domestic animals. It has a range of animals including mammals, birds, and cold-blooded creatures. In 2019, it became a licensed white-tail deer rehabilitation facility.
The zoo had been rebuilt after a devastating fire in December 2017 and had hosted a drive-through nativity scene in December, just before Christmas. The zoo has worked with inmates. Some of the zooâ€™s animals are sometimes brought to events such as the Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge.
Cox’s obituary, published by Holley-Gamble Funeral Home, said he was born on January 13, 1960, and was a lifelong resident of Clinton.
“He had a unique gift of making everyone feel like family and therefore never met a stranger,” the obituary said. “As the founder of Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue, James turned his passion for animals into an experience that promoted education, celebrated family and community, and provided a forever home for many abandoned and forgotten animals.
Cox was preceded in death by his father, Lester Cox, and son, Brandon Cox.
He is survived by his mother, Loretta Cox; brother, Steve Cox; children: Tiffany Wade (Bruce), Tim Cox, Brittany Daniel (Jason), Cade Cox, and Corbin Cox; special friend and partner, Mary Lou Redmond and daughter Madison; grandchildren: Alexis Wade, Gracie Wade, Delaney Wade, Miley Wade, Bryce Wade, Callie Cox, Caelyn Cox, Kylee Daniel, and Jayden Daniel; niece, Chandler Cox; aunts, Lois Bray and Joyce Jarnigan; several cousins; and many close friends.