To operate a Zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a licence from your Local Authority.
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 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 the Local Authority is available to be inspected at the Local Authority offices.
A summary of Zoo Regulation has been produced by the National Archives.
Application Process and Fees
A fee of £1020 (£1132 from 1st April 2023) plus the actual team and veterinary costs will be payable for new applications and a fee of £970 (£1077 from 1st April 2023) plus the actual team and veterinary costs will be payable on renewals. Conditions may be attached.
To transfer a Zoo Licence costs £100 (£111 from 1st April 2023) plus the actual team and Veterinary costs.
For new applications only, applicants may pay 5% less when making an application. If you do, you would then be invoiced for this amount plus £30 for the additional administration cost, when the licence has been issued.
Veterinary inspection costs associated with the Zoo licensing are payable by the applicant/licence holder. The Council will pay the veterinary practice and then will invoice you separately to recover the costs.
Certain inspections under the Zoo Licence Act also require a veterinary practice appointed by DEFRA. Please note that the Council has no control over who they appoint, how far they travel and their costs etc.
Additionally, depending the Zoo status, appointed veterinary inspectors may be appointed from two independent practices to inspect at the same time. Again, the Council will pay the veterinary practice and then we will invoice you separately to recover the costs.
When considering an application we will take into account of 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)
- 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 Local Authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a Licence
Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we will 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. We will provide at least 28 days notice of the inspection.
We will not grant the Licence if we feel that the Zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in or near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order, or if we 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 mistreatment 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 the Local Authority.
The Secretary of State, after consulting the Local Authority, may direct them 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 types of animal exhibit there, a direction should be made that that a Licence is not required.
Tacit Consent does not apply to Zoo Licences.
It is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted.
If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes Service or use the contact details below.
How to Apply
You can apply for a Zoo Licence either in writing or, because this Licence is covered by the EU Services Directive, you can also apply online through the gov.uk website:
- Download our Zoo Licence Application Form
- Download our Zoo Licence Renewal Application Form
- Apply Online for a Zoo Licence
- Send Notification of your Intention to Operate a Zoo Online
Failed Application Redress
Please contact us the first instance.
If an 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 us in the first instance.
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 the Local 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 Gov.uk can offer advice on Consumer Protection Rights .
Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a Zoo may apply to the local Magistrates’ court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of the local authority decision.