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Little Ponderosa Zoo hosts grand reopening 10-months after devastating fire

CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) - Excited and overjoyed, that's the feeling for so many who work at Little Ponderosa Zoo as this weekend marks a celebration. The zoo welcoming East Tennessee to their grand reopening on Saturday.

Sadly, last December flames consumed the main barn and while workers tried saving as many animals as possible, dozens died.

Related: Animals killed in Anderson County zoo fire

Over the last few months we've been following their progress. In June, the zoo's owner, James Cox, walked us through construction and the plans he had continuing to care for exotic animals.

More: Progress underway at Little Ponderosa Zoo after December's fire

It's taken 10 months to build the four walls of the zoo's new facility.

"I don't have the words to describe how amazing it really is," said Cox.

Friday night all the reptiles, birds and monkeys will be moved into their respective homes within the new facility.

"The biggest thing I think is we got a lot safer facility with stuff being behind glass and all that, it's just safer for the animals and the people," added Cox.

For the first time Little Ponderosa Zoo will have a climate controlled facility and an on-site vet clinic. Cox says the second floor of the facility will turn into a rehab clinic, "Where we'll take animals in and rehab them and try to put them back to where they belong in their regular habitat."

Included in the many additions is a baby donkey born last Sunday. Cox said it's meaningful because the fire had killed a newly born donkey back in December.

"If you were to ask me what means a lot to me, the floors that you're standing on, that we're standing on, are actually the floors that were in the other building. So these floors are actually the ones these animals lived on before and we're excited about that," added Cox.

The zoo is thankful and excited for all the blessings from the community over the last few months.

"It's hard to believe you can take something that bad and turn it into something this good but that's what happened here. Through that trial, great things have developed," said Cox.

If you're wanting to visit the animals and take part in the grand reopening, you can stop by Little Ponderosa Zoo located at 629 Granite Road in Clinton between 10am-6pm on Saturday October 13th. We're told admission to the grand reopening is $10 and the zoo is expecting upwards of 20,000 visitors.

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