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Exotic pets end up at Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue | Business

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Exotic pets end up at Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue
Exotic pets end up at Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue

A sad reality of exotic pet ownership is the pets grow up. If owners can't take of them then they often end up being put down.

An East Tennessee rescue facility is a forever home for these animals.

"I would like to have zoo. Clinton needs a zoo," James Cox said.

That's how James Cox decided to start the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue 22 years ago with rescue animals.

He doesn't buy or breed.

Most of the animals were raised in captivity and couldn't survive in the wild. In fact, many of them were once pets.

"They were little they were cute. They turn bad. And they have no home so they come here to live. That's why we discourage that," Cox said.

Pentagonian Cavys are the world's second largest rodent and some of them are residents at the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue.

"People buy the little Cavy, it's so small on a bottle. They go to an exotic auction or they go online and they buy them. And there again they get big and sometimes they turn bad," he said.

One primate named George is particularly aggressive. He was rescued from a meth lab.

"It was in Kentucky, and they went in and busted this big lab and when they did George was there," he said.
"He makes his home here now and he's still very aggressive."

Other animals arrived under different circumstances. For example, a big cat rescue in Oklahoma had too many tigers and placed two at the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue.

"We got a pair of monkeys here that came out of a zoo in Iowa. A gentleman ran a zoo. He passed. His family did away with the zoo and this pair of monkeys was too old to sell to anybody so they called us," he explained.

Coyotes trapped in Oak Ridge ended up at the facility instead of being euthanized.

Boo the lemur is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he survived the tornados last year but his home did not. Now Boo has a permanent home in Clinton.

"It's just the satisfaction of knowing that I've helped these animals along the way," he said.

Admission tickets cover part of the non-profit zoo's expenses, working the fair circuit raises more money, and donations make up the rest.

The organization is eligible for a Chase Community Giving grant. Portions of the grant money will be awarded based on facebook votes.

"That bag of feed that 5 years ago cost us $8 is costing us $14 today," he explained.

The zoo is set up to give the larger animals room to roam and even leap.

Visitors can see them as they explore the 10 acres of the Little Ponderosa Zoo.

"It's something you've got to love. I live here on site. I'm here pretty much seven days a week 24 hours a day. There's no off time, there's no down time, there's no vacation time," he said.

When the visitors go home and the animals go to sleep James Cox is still there.

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