Zoo licence

To open and run a zoo, you need a licence from us.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 regulates this licence.

You may need to get planning permission. Contact Planning using the details on the right.

Before you apply

At least two months before applying for a licence, you must write or email us, telling us:

  • Where the zoo will be
  • What sort of animals and how many. You must also say how you'll accommodate and look after them, and ensure their well being
  • How many staff will be employed and the types of jobs
  • How many visitors and vehicles the zoo will cater for
  • Entrance numbers and where they will be
  • Your conservation plans

At this time, you must also publish a notice saying you intend to apply for a zoo licence in one local and one national newspaper.

You must also display a copy of the notice at the zoo site. This notice must say where the zoo will be and that your application notice to us is available for inspection at our offices.

How to apply for a licence

Apply online – Apply for a zoo licence

You need to use Adobe Reader version 8.1 or above to complete the online form. You can download the latest version from the right of this page.

Cost

Contact us for details about the licence application fee. The fee will also include veterinary costs linked with the application and inspection.

Inspections and assessment

Before we issue the licence, we will inspect your premises. Once you have the licence we will inspect them every year.

What happens next

  • We aim to respond to your application within three working days
  • We aim to decide your application within 28 days
  • Don't assume the licence has been granted if you haven't heard from us for a month. Check with us first.

How to appeal

If we refused your application, contact us to see if we can sort out the problem.

You can appeal to the local magistrates' court within 28 days of receiving notification of the refusal.

You can also appeal (within 28 days) against conditions attached to a licence, refusal to transfer a licence, a closure direction and enforcement steps.

How to renew

Your licence will last for four years. Renewals last for six years.
You must apply to renew your licence at least six months before the existing licence runs out.

Apply online – renew your zoo licence

How to tell us of changes

You must tell us of any changes to your circumstances.

Apply online – change zoo licence

You need to use Adobe Reader version 8.1 or above to complete the online form. You can download the latest version from the right of this page.

Offences and penalties

List of offences under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Customer complaints

If you have a complaint against a trader, we advise you contact them by letter (with proof of delivery).

If that fails and you are in the UK, Citizens Advice will give you advice.

For outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre. If you have concerns about a pet shop, contact us using the details on the right of the page.

Register (of licence holders)

We do not hold a register of zoos.

 
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