Sunrise Side Owner James Svoboda’s License Permanently Revoked for Litany of AWA Violations

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2 min read

There’s justice for Dolly, Grizzy, and the other animals James Svoboda imprisoned: Svoboda, owner of the now-defunct Michigan roadside zoo Sunrise Side Nature Trail and Exotic Park, just lost his exhibitor’s license for good! In a consent decision with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over his previous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), he paid a $2,700 civil penalty, and his license was permanently revoked. As a result of the settlement, he will never have another chance to harm USDA-regulated animals, including bears and lions, by using them in deplorable exhibition businesses.

Svoboda’s facility was one of PETA’s longtime targets, and we’re happy to see the USDA take steps to ensure that he can’t start another enterprise just like it. In 2021, following numerous violations of the AWA, federal authorities confiscated an injured bear named Grizzy, who had suffered for months from a gaping wound that had festered because he hadn’t been given veterinary attention.

Sunrise Side then entered into an agreement with us to relinquish a black bear named Dolly and three foxes—whose transfer we arranged to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado—and to never again acquire or possess any wild or exotic animals.


This Penalty Was a Long Time Coming

Svoboda exploited animals and subjected them to miserable confinement at his roadside zoo for years. Among other serious violations, officials cited Sunrise Side over filthy, feces-caked enclosures and inadequate veterinary care for an apparently emaciated lion, an obese bobcat, and a fox with severe hair loss.


fox rescued from sunrise side nature trail and exotic park
This fox and two others who were rescued by PETA are now enjoying their lives at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, where they have tall grass to roam through and plenty of room to play.

Help Others Suffering at Seedy Roadside Zoos Like Sunrise Side

PETA has helped free the suffering animals from Sunrise Side’s cages, but we have more work ahead—and you can help us. Steer clear of roadside zoos—like Oswald’s Bear Ranch, a hellhole that forces bears to pose for cruel photo ops—at all costs. Take action below to help us shut it down:

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