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Critter Ridge provides rehabilitation for raccoons and purpose for Angela Cox

“Critter Ridge provides rehabilitation for raccoons and purpose for Angela Cox” was produced during the 2023 Picture Kentucky Workshop in Frankfort, Kentucky, where students were randomly assigned subjects in the area to follow and complete a photo story over the course of four days.

Angela Cox was only 2 years old when nature’s bandits first stole her heart. 

Growing up in the backwoods of Franklin County, Kentucky, in the ‘70s, there weren’t many people to keep Cox company. So her father did what anyone would do — let her keep all kinds of exotic pets, especially raccoons. 

“It was a very isolated area,” Cox said. “I didn’t have anybody to play with, so my dad just bought me any kind of animal I wanted. The only thing I ever asked for that he didn’t give me was a monkey.” 

Cox didn’t mind the lack of people. She said she prefers the company of animals, anyway. 

Today, she lives just down the street from her childhood home, where she runs the Critter Ridge Sanctuary. 

Cox has rehabilitated hundreds of raccoons at Critter Ridge, as well as deer, foxes, groundhogs, coyotes, squirrels, skunks and more. 

She’s currently caring for 10 raccoons, most of which have special needs and will stay with her their whole lives. Those who are deemed fit for survival are released into the wild around her property so she can still keep up with her furry friends. 

Every raccoon in Cox’s care is more than just an animal to her. They are her “babies,” each with distinctive names and personalities. 

“Everything revolves around them. My schedule works around them,” Cox said. “These guys right here, this is my heart and soul.” 

Though she has been keeping raccoons her whole life, Cox got licensed to do so legally and opened Critter Ridge to the public in 2019 after losing Buckwheata, the raccoon who changed her life. 

Buckwheata lived inside Cox’s house, slept in the bed with her, went with her everywhere she went, ate out of a high chair and sucked Cox’s thumb incessantly. 

“I could have ten million more raccoons and there will never be another like her,” Cox said. 

After being in Cox’s care for less than two years, Buckwheata died of parvovirus. Through her heartbreak, Cox opened Critter Ridge in Buckwheata’s honor.

Cox believes that Buckwheata and the rest of her “babies” are proof that raccoons are highly intelligent, complex and misunderstood creatures. She said she hopes that Critter Ridge can help visitors see that raccoons are more than the mischievous nuisance society often perceives them. 

Covered from head-to-toe with realistic raccoon tattoos and never caught without raccoon apparel of some kind on, Cox isn’t always accepted by society either. But she said she couldn’t care less. 

“I smoke like a freight train, I cuss like a sailor, I live for me and my animals,” Cox said. “I don’t live to satisfy other people. That’s what’s wrong with society. Everybody’s trying to make everyone else happy. Make yourself happy and piss on everybody else. I promise it’ll all work out.”

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  • A

    Anne B MillerDec 1, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    Angela Cox is someone I know that I am proud to call my dear friend. Although we have never met in person, I know I can call her anytime for advice on raccoons or just for a chat. Very few people have Angela’s knowledge of animals, and fewer people have her tremendous heart.

  • M

    melissa dixonDec 1, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    Absolutely wonderful
    Thank you Angela, Critter Ridge and especially Buckwheata ❤️