Apply for a licence to operate a zoo

You must give us at least two months written notice (post or email) before making an application for a licence. The licence may be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

Tell us you intend to run a zoo Apply for a licence

Changes to your existing licence


A licence costs £87 (plus vets fees).


You must give us at least two months written notice (post or email) before making an application for a licence.

The notice must identify the:

  • zoo's location
  • types of animals (and approximate number of each group) kept for exhibition on the premises
  • arrangements for accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing of the animals
  • approximate numbers and categories of staff you will employ
  • approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles you will cater for
  • approximate number (and positions of access) you will provide to the premises
  • methods of implementing the required conservation measures at the zoo

At least two months before making the application, you must also:

  • publish notice in one local newspaper
  • publish notice in one national newspaper
  • exhibit a copy of the notice

The notice must:

  • identify the location of the zoo
  • state that the application notice to us is available to be inspected at our offices

Application process

When considering an application we take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police
  • 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
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority) or, if the part is situated in Wales, the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
  • anyone 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 the application we:

  • consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo
  • consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence
  • make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out (we will give at least 28 days notice)

We will not grant the licence if we decide:

  • the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living near it
  • the zoo would seriously affect the preservation of law and order
  • that appropriate conservation measures would not be implemented satisfactorily

We might also refuse an application 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
  • the applicant, (or if the applicant is an incorporated company) the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries, zoo keepers or other similar officers have been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless we allow a shorter time period.

The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, 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.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.

Failed or refused applications

Contact us in the first instance.

Licence holder redress

Contact us in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' Court against:

  • any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition
  • the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
  • a zoo closure direction
  • enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition

You must appeal within 28 days (from the date on which you receive written notification of our decision).

Contact Environmental health