Zoo licence

Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, any establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public, otherwise than for the purposes of a circus or a pet shop, requires a licence from us. In order to issue the licence, we will inspect the premises and consult other local agencies.

Application for zoo licence

Please download, complete and return the relevant application to us.

When considering an application, we shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police in the relevant area
  • the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority) or, if the part is situated in Wales, the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
  • any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living in the neighbourhood
  • anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it
  • any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence.

Notification of intention to operate a zoo

Size: 36.60 KB File format: pdf

Licence to operate a zoo application

Size: 31.79 KB File format: pdf

Renew a zoo licence application

Size: 79.43 KB File format: pdf

Vary or surrender zoo licence

Size: 34.81 KB File format: pdf

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we shall consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. At least 28 days notice of the inspection shall be provided by us.

We will not grant the licence if it is felt that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.

An application may also be refused if:

  • we are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo
  • the applicant, or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by us.

The Secretary of State, after consulting us, may direct us to attach one or more conditions to a licence. We may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that that a licence is not required.


  • Notification to operate a zoo £256
  • Application for a zoo licence £629
  • Renewal of a zoo licence £573
  • Change a zoo licence £573

Qualifying criteria

At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to us of their intention to make the application. The notice must identify:

  • the zoo's location
  • the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
  • the approximate numbers and categories of staff to be employed in the zoo
  • 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 at the zoo

At least two months before making the application, the applicant must also publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice to us is available to be inspected at our offices.

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 60 days, please contact us. 

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance. If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Licence holder redress

A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court against:

  • any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition
  • the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
  • a zoo closure direction
  • enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition.

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of our decision as to the relevant matter.

Other redress

If you have any issues regarding a zoo for example complaints relating to; noise, pollution or possible non compliance with regulations, please contact us for help and advice.