This section gives you all the information on the licence you will need to run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales.
Zoo licence summary
The licence must be obtained from your local authority
. It may be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of a zoo.
Zoo licence eligibility criteria
At least two months before you make your application, you must give notice to the local authority
of your intention to apply for a zoo licence. This notice can be given in writing or electronically, and must identify:
To send notification of your intention to operate a zoo, follow this link
- the zoo’s location
- the types of animals that will be kept at the zoo
- the approximate number of each animal group kept for exhibition on the premises
- accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing arrangements
- the approximate numbers and categories of staff to be employed
- the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation is to be provided
- the approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
- how required conservation measures will be implemented
Please note the applicant must also, at least two months before making the application, publish notice of intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper, stating:
- the location of the zoo
- that the application notice to the local authority will be available to be inspected at the council's offices
Application evaluation process
The local authority will take into account any objections made by or on behalf of:
- the applicant
- the chief office of police (in Scotland, the chief constable) in the relevant area
- the appropriate authority
- the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
- a relevant planning authority (other than a county planning authority), if part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence
- any person who feels the zoo would affect the health and safety of people living in or near to it
- any other person whose objections might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse the licence
Before granting or refusing the licence, the local authority will consider any inspectors’ reports. They will also consult the applicant about any proposed conditions that will be attached to the licence and will make arrangements for their own inspection to be carried out – giving at least 28 days’ notice prior to this.
The licence may be refused if the local authority feels:
- the zoo would affect the health and safety of people living near it
- the preservation of law and order may be affected
- the appropriate conservation measures would not be satisfactorily implemented
- the accommodation, staffing or management standards are not suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of a zoo
- the applicant or keeper in the zoo has been convicted of any offence involving ill-treatment of animals. For a company, this includes any of its directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers.
Renewing a licence
To renew a licence you must contact the local authority
no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter period has been agreed upon.
After consultation, the secretary of state may direct the local authority to attach one or more conditions to a licence.
The secretary of state may also be notified if the local authority feels a licence is not required due to the small number of animals/kinds of animals at the zoo.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted. If you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period, please contact the local authority either online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service
How to apply
Failed application redress
If your application is refused, please contact your local authority.
Following this, you may appeal to a magistrates’ court (or in Scotland to your local sheriff) within 28 days from the date the applicant received written notification of the refusal.
Licence holder redress
Please first contact your local authority
. A licence holder may appeal to a magistrates’ court within 28 days from the date the licence holder receives written notification of the authority’s decision. The holder can challenge:
- any condition, variation or cancellation of a condition attached to a licence
- the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
- a zoo closure direction
- enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. If this doesn’t work, please contact the licensing team.