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Zoo licence

You’ll need a zoo licence if you’ll be displaying wild animals to the public for at least 7 days within any period of 12 consecutive months, in any place that’s not a circus or pet shop.

A new zoo licence is valid for four years, renewals are valid for six years. Periodical inspections with a DEFRA appointed vet are carried out during the term of the licence, as well as an annual inspection by the licensing authority. A copy of the licence must be displayed at each entrance of the zoo.

Read the Zoo Licensing Act 1981

Conditions are set by the local authority, having regard to the Secretary of State’s standards. These are specifically written for each premises.

There are two stages to apply for a zoo licence.

At least 2 months before opening, you must send us the following details

  • Where the zoo will be
  • What kind of animals you are going to keep and how many
  • How you’ll house and care for the animals
  • Expected numbers of staff to be employed
  • Expected visitor and vehicle numbers
  • Entrance and exit points

You must also publish a notice that you intend to apply in at least one local and one national newspaper. This notice must also be sent to us, and displayed at the planned site.

The next stage is an inspection. You will get at least 28 days notice, and after the inspection you may have extra conditions attached to your licence.

In order to secure a licence, your must tell us how you will do the following:

  • Help educate people about diversity
  • Be suitable for the types of animal you’re keeping
  • Have a high standard of animal care
  • Do as much as possible to stop any animals escaping
  • Stop pests and vermin getting into the zoo
  • Not affect the health and safety of local people or local law and order
  • You must also do one of the following:
  • Conservation research or training
  • Share conservation information
  • Captive animal breeding
  • Help repopulate species into the wild

Apply for a zoo licence

To apply for or renew a zoo licence, please email or call 01403 215427.

You could get a fine of up to £2,500 if you run a zoo without a licence or don’t follow the conditions of a licence.

You could also get a fine of up to £1,000 if you stop a zoo inspector doing their job properly or don’t display your zoo licence properly.