Zoos range from traditional zoos and safari parks to small specialist collections, such as butterfly houses and aquaria.
You must keep records on animal health, numbers and species, acquisitions, births, deaths (with causes), disposals and escapes.
The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. It is recommended that a specialist officer is contacted first for advice and guidance.
We will also consult other local agencies such as the police, fire and planning authority. We will take account of representations made in respect of the application by these organisations and by members of the public.
After the inspection, we may grant or refuse your application. If the application is granted, we may attach conditions to your licence and you will be inspected regularly to make sure that you are following these conditions.
Before a licence is issued, your premises will be inspected by an approved inspector. You will get at least 28 days’ notice before the inspection and you will also have to pay an inspection fee of £145.
Licences are usually granted for four years and consecutive renewals will run for six years.
When is a licence required?
You need a zoo licence if you will be displaying wild animals to the public, with or without charge for admission, for at least 7 days a year, in a place that is not a circus or pet shop.
The conduct of zoos is regulated by licences granted under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.
There are exemptions for circuses, pet shops and any individual premises where the Secretary of State issues a direction that the act should not apply.
You may not get a licence if anyone working in or managing the zoo has committed an animal welfare offence.
What information do I need to give you?
You must provide details about:
- site and layout;
- where the zoo will be;
- what kind of animals you’re going to keep and how many;
- how you’ll house and care for the animals;
- staff numbers and what they’ll be doing;
- expected visitor and vehicle numbers;
- zoo entrance and exit points; and
- how you’ll meet the conservation conditions.
To get a licence your zoo must:
- help educate people about biodiversity;
- be suitable for the types of animals you’re keeping;
- have a high standard of animal care;
- do as much as possible to stop any animals escaping; and
- stop pests and vermin getting into the zoo.
You must also do at least one of the following:
- Conservation research or training.
- Share conservation information.
- Captive animal breeding.
- Help repopulate or reintroduce species into the wild.
You must also make sure the zoo will not affect:
- the health and safety of local people;
- the preservation of law and order; and
- the animals’ well-being.
How much does a licence cost?
How do I apply for a licence?
You should find out if you need planning permission.
Before applying for a licence, you must first provide us with at least 2 months’ written notice that you intend to apply for a zoo licence.
You also need to publish a notice in at least one local newspaper and one national newspaper. You must state in your notice when and where the notice to the local authority may be inspected. The notice will be available for public inspection until the application is processed.
You cannot submit your application until after the 2 months’ notice has expired.
You can apply online at the GOV.UK website.
When will my application be processed?
We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 4 working days.
We will determine your application within 28 days.
Will tacit consent apply?
No, it is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.
How do I appeal?
Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to their local Magistrates, but please contact us in the first instance.
Any licence holder who objects to a condition attached to a licence may appeal to the local Magistrates court.
Environmental Health and Licensing
01438 242908 / 242916