Zoo Licensing Act 1981
To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a Zoo Licencing Act 1981 from the local authority. The licence will be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo. Any establishment where wild animals are kept for display to the public (other than in a circus or a pet shop) must first obtain a licence from the Local Authority, Zoo Licencing Act 1981: guide to the act's provisions.
How much does a licence cost?
A fee is payable please see our current Fees and Charges
Who can apply?
Any fit and proper person who is not disqualified from keeping animals may apply.
Is planning permission required?
We recommend that you discuss your proposals with Planning Services to determine whether a planning application is needed.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. A zoo must not be run without a licence.
How do I apply for a licence?
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 of your intention to operate a zoo which will be available to be inspected at the local authority offices.
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 authority.
The local authority will not grant the licence to operate a zoo, 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.
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 that a licence is not required.
Amending an existing zoo licence
How long does a licence last?
Initially a licence is granted for 4 years. After this it is renewed for 6 years and is renewed every 6 years thereafter.
What can I do if my licence application is refused?
You can apply to the Magistrates' Court if you application is refused.