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Licence summary

You need a licence from us to run a zoo or display wild animals to the public for at least seven days a year. This does not apply to circuses or pet shops.

Please ensure that the premises have the necessary planning permission before you make your application.

Initial licences are valid for four years. Subsequent licences are valid for six years.

Are there any restrictions?

You may be refused a licence if you have been disqualified from keeping animals or have a conviction under any animal welfare legislation.

How do I apply?

To apply for a licence you need to:

  • inform us in writing about your intention to apply at least two months before you actually make the application

  • publish a notice in a local and a national newspaper

  • display a copy of the notice at the proposed zoo site

  • provide us with a copy of the notice for public comment.

We may also ask you to supply us with representations from the police, fire service, public objections, national institutions concerned with the operation of zoos in the UK (such as an aquatic zoo specialist) and other persons whose representations might be relevant.

After the two-month period, complete and submit the application and pay the administrative charge online.

We will then arrange the inspection of the premises. The inspection will be carried out by a team of inspectors, including an authorised competent officer from the council together with specialist zoo inspectors who are appointed by the Secretary of State. The inspection team will produce a report of its findings. We will use the report to decide whether to grant or refuse a licence and will advise you in writing of our decision.

How do we use your information?

View the Privacy Notice – Zoos.


The licence cost is made of three parts:

  • an administrative charge of £54.18

  • the cost of the council inspector’s time (at £49 per hour), and

  • the cost of the veterinary surgeon and specialist adviser

The costs of the council inspector, veterinary surgeon and specialist adviser will be confirmed after the inspection has been carried out and must be paid before the licence is issued.

Fees for veterinary surgeons, specialist advisers and council inspectors include:

  • travel time to and from the premises

  • the time spent at the premises and

  • any necessary administration in connection with the licence.

If a zoo fails to meet the terms and conditions of the licence, further charges to cover our and any third party costs may be payable when you renew your licence.

Does tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that you obtain a licence before operating a zoo.

Appeals and complaints

If you are refused a licence or want to appeal against a licence condition please contact us. If the problem cannot be resolved, you can appeal to the local Magistrates’ court.

Consumer complaint

We advise that consumer complaints are first made to the trader, preferably in the form of a letter (with proof of delivery). If that does not work, further advice is available from Citizens Advice.

For complaints such as noise pollution or one licence holder complaining about another, please contact us for advice.