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Zoo Licence


Summary (optional)
You’ll need a zoo licence if you’ll be displaying wild animals to the public for at least 7 days a year, in any place that’s not a circus or pet shop.
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You must give at least 2 months notice before applying for a zoo licence.

Notification

You can apply for a Zoo Licence 2 months after your notification to operate zoo is received by us.

Send your notification of your intention to operate a zoo
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Apply

Apply for a Zoo licence
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Renew your zoo licence

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.

Renew your Zoo Licence
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Fees

An application/renewal for a zoo licence costs £550 (with additional veterinary report costs at the expense of the applicant) and can be paid online using the above link.  Licences once issued are valid for 5 years and must be renewed no later than six months before the expiry date.   

Eligibility

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.

An applicant for a licence will need to consider whether planning permission is required for the proposed licensed activity. They should contact the planning department to discuss whether permission will be needed. The local authority may refuse or defer a decision on an application for a licence until the planning issue has been decided.

Supporting Documentation

The following documents should also be submitted with your application:

  • Site/Location plan
  • Plan showing layout of the zoo
  • Animal accommodation plan
  • Entrances and exit plan
  • Stock List
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Employers Liability Insurance
  • Press notice (for new notifications/applications)
  • Planning permission (for new notifications/applications)

 Application Process and Timescales

Once your application is received, an officer will contact you to make arrangements to carry out an inspection of your premises in conjunction with an approved vet.

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 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

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 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 animals.

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.

Please note that tacit consent does not apply to zoo licence applications.  This means that you must wait for the council to determine your application before a zoo may begin operating.  It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If the required two months notice of intention to apply is correctly served (for new applicants only) we will aim to have your application dealt with and licence granted or refused with 160 days of receipt of the application.

Legislation and Conditions

 Applicants and licence holders must meet the requirements of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981and associated conditions as directed by the Secretary of State.

To get a licence your zoo must:

  • help educate people about biodiversity
  • be suitable for the types of animals 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

You must also do at least 1 of the following:

  • conservation research or training
  • sharing conservation information
  • captive animal breeding
  • helping repopulate or reintroduce species into the wild

 Before you can get a licence you’ll need to tell your local council how you’ll do this.

You must make sure the zoo wouldn’t affect:

  • the health and safety of local people
  • local law and order
  • the animals’ well-being

Failed applications and appeals

If a licence is refused an appeal may be made to the magistrates court which may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions.

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 authority's decision as to the relevant matter.

Report a problem

Any complaints or enquiries regarding a zoo please contact us.

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