To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a licence.
At least two months before making an application for a licence, you must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to us of your 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, you 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.
Click here for a full list of licence fees
How to apply
You can now apply online.
Send notification of your intention to operate a zoo
Apply for a licence to operate a zoo
Tell us about a change to your existing zoo licence
Privacy notice - Applications for licences/registrations issued in relation to the keeping of animals (PDF)
Application evaluation process
When considering an application we shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:
- the applicant
- the chief officer of police (or in Scotland the chief constable) 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
- 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, we shall consider any inspectors' reports based on our inspection of the zoo, consult you about any conditions you 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.
We will not grant the licence if we feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living 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:
- we 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
- you, or if you are 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 with us, may direct us to attach one or more conditions to a licence.
We 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.
It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 28 days please contact this authority as soon as possible.