Zoo Licensing

Animal Welfare licence

About Zoo Licences

All zoos in Great Britain must be inspected and get a licence from the local council. This is to make sure that all the animals in zoos are kept somewhere suitable that allows them to behave in the most natural way possible. The licence may be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

When to apply

You must give at least two months' notice before applying for a licence and give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to the council of their intention to make the application.

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 state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at the council offices.

The notice must provide:

  • 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 well being
  • 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

Evaluating the application

Before granting or refusing the licence, the council will consider the inspectors' reports 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 will be given by the council.

The council 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 be refused if:

  • the council feel that the zoo would be harmful to the health and safety of the people living near it, or seriously affect law and order, or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be taken
  • the council is not happy that the accommodation, staffing or management are suitable to provide proper care and well being of the animals or 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 council, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

The council 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 a licence is not required.

Applications to renew a licence

These will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by the council.

Can I reapply if my application fails?

If your application for a licence has failed and you would like to correct what is wrong and reapply, please contact the council.

Apply online

Online Application Form