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Celebration of life for beloved zoo founder James Cox to be held Saturday

In lieu of flowers, family and friends are requesting a donation be made to the zoo and rescue so Cox's legacy can be honored.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A celebration of life for James Cox, beloved founder of the Little Ponderosa Zoo, will be held Saturday, February 13. 

The ceremony will be held from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Little Ponderosa Zoo.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends are requesting a donation be made to the zoo and rescue so Cox's legacy can be honored.

Officials with the zoo said that he was in the hospital for heart surgery and that he had a weak heart as well as pneumonia.

The Little Ponderosa Zoo started as a zoo and evolved into an exotic animal rescue serving people across the U.S.

They have an extensive list of mammals, birds, reptiles and has also been licensed as a white-tail deer rehabilitation facility.

Cox also helped establish the "Zoo Crew" at the zoo, helping inmates learn life skills while volunteering at Little Ponderosa. The program was part of a partnership with the zoo that started in 2018, officials said.

And when the zoo had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that the animals were eager to see officials touring the zoo. He said that they welcomed Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and other officials, as eager to reopen as the staff was.

As the founder and director of the Little Ponderosa Zoo, Cox said that there was a lot that people could learn from animals.

"They know it's time for them to have their morning meal. In the evening, they're all waiting for their evening meal. They live in the moment. That's what we need to do, live in the moment," he said in April. 

RELATED: Founder of Little Ponderosa Zoo, James Cox, has died after being hospitalized in late January

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