Little Ponderosa Zoo working to rebuild after fire

CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) - The Little Ponderosa Zoo aims to reopen by December 30th, in the wake of the deadly fire that killed more than 40 animals. 

"My heart is still broken," said James Cox, Little Ponderosa Zoo's founder and owner. "If I said it wasn't broken, I'd be lying to you."

Monday marks two weeks since a barn burned down, killing dozens of animals. 

"Two weeks ago on a Monday at this time... I was saying to myself I don't know what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it... but because of the outpouring of love and support from the community, it gives us strength to move forward," Cox said. 

Since then, the community has rallied behind the zoo, in the form of donations and fundraising drives to help the zoo in its time of need.

Cox said he cannot replace all that was lost, but he can begin a new chapter, by cleaning up the damage and starting to rebuild, thanks to all the help from the people in East Tennessee. 

Monday, Anderson County's Superintendent of Schools tweeted out a picture showing a check worth for more than $10,000 being presented to the zoo.

"Dr. Parrot called me and asked me to be at the Norwood Elementary school this morning and he had talked to me right after the fire about how the kids were trying to raise money and how they thought they could raise 4,000 dollars if every child would be accountable for 50 cents, which I thought was very touching, but this morning, the Anderson County School system presented us with a check of over $10,000 that just the kids raised to support this place. It's just amazing," Cox said. 

Cox said recovery would not be possible without the community's support, and it's been the light that's kept him going through this difficult time. 

"Just to feel the spirit of Christmas.. you can feel it in the community.. people have been so encouraging and we're so grateful for that," Cox said.

If you want to continue to help the zoo, Cox said they are in need of monetary donations. The money would help fund the rebuilding of a new barn, among other tasks. 

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