Information and guidance on the
licensing of zoos.
To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you will need a
licence from the local authority.
The licence is subject to fees and conditions to ensure
the proper conduct of the zoo.
At least two months before making an application for a
licence, the applicant must give notice in writing (including by
electronic means) to the local authority 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 well being;
- 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
- how required conservation measures will be implemented at the
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 the local authority is available to be
inspected at the local authority offices.
Application Evaluation Process
When considering an application the local authority shall take
into account any representations made by or on behalf of:
- the applicant;
- the chief officer of police (or in Scotland the chief
constable) in the relevant area
- the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing
authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be
- 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; and
- any other person whose representations might show grounds on
which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a
Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, the local
authority 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 the local
The local authority will not grant the licence if they feel 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:
- the local authority 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
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 the local authority.
The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority,
may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.
The local authority 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 a licence is not required.
How long will it take to receive the
Application to Change a Zoo
Application to renew a Zoo
Alternatively you may download an application form from the
forms links section.
There is a fee for this licence but this is determined by the
cost of veterinary inspector's and environmental health officer's
time spent on the licence application.
Failed application Redress
Please contact the local authority in the first
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
Please contact the local authority in the first
A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' Court
- any condition attached to a licence or any variation or
cancellation or a condition;
- the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence;
- a zoo closure direction; and
- 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 the authority's
decision as to the relevant matter.
We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the
first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the
form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if
you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct
give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre
If you have any concerns or require information about
standards please contact Health and
on 01653 600666 ext 249.