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Zoo licensing

A zoo is an establishment where wild animals (for example, not normally domesticated in Great Britain) are kept for exhibition to the public with or without charge on more than 7 days in any 12-month period. Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, anyone operating a zoo will require a licence from the local Authority. The legislation is designed for animal welfare. However, Health and Safety legislation applies to zoo workers and visitors welfare.

A new licence will normally be granted for up to four years and subsequent renewals will normally run for up to six years.


  • Circuses
  • Pet shops

Licence Conditions

  • The local Authority shall not consider an application unless at least 2 months notice of the application had been given, plus publication of details in a local and national newspaper and notice placed at the site.
  • The authority must arrange an inspection of the zoo by a consultant veterinary inspector from the list of suitable nominated inspectors by the Secretary of State.
  • Annual Health and Safety inspection carried out by EH dept (no charge).
  • Full inspection with vet every 5 years and interim inspection with vet half way through the licence period.

The Authority will need to consult:

  • Police
  • Fire Authority
  • Governing body of any national institute concerned with zoos
  • Any adjoining Local Authority if the zoo overlaps another district
  • Any person wishing to object on grounds of alleged injurious effect on the health or
  • safety of persons living in the area


Dependent on costs - consult with Licensing Team

How to apply

Apply online for a zoo licence or report a change to an existing zoo licence via the Businesslink website.

Contact Details