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Zoo licensing

A zoo licence is needed if wild animals are exhibited to the general public on seven or more days in any 12 consecutive months. There are exemptions for circuses, pet shops and any individual premises where the Secretary of State issues a direction that the Act should not apply.

How to apply

Anyone wishing to apply, transfer or renew a Zoo Licence should contact Environmental Health who will outline the procedures to be followed and provide the applicant with the appropriate application forms. Any new Zoos will also require planning approval. Fees & charges.

You may submit an electronic Zoo licence Notification to Operate Form or an Application Form through

Tacit consent

Tacit consent does not apply to applications for this licence as it is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.


Applicants for the renewal of a zoo licence and all new applicants are required to demonstrate how they meet the key areas contained in the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice which reflect the following five principles:

  • Provision of food and water
  • Provision of a suitable habitat
  • Provision of suitable animal healthcare
  • Provision of an opportunity to express most normal behaviour
  • Provision of protection from fear and distress

Participation in conservation measures such as:

  • Research of benefit to the conservation of species
    Training in relevant conservation skills
  • Exchange of information relating to species conservation
  • Captive breeding and repopulating or re-introduction of species to the wild.
  • Promoting public education and awareness in relation to the conservation of biodiversity, with particular emphasis on providing information about the species exhibited and their natural habitats.
  • Accommodating their animals under conditions that aim to satisfy the biological and conservation requirements of individual species by providing:
    Species specific enrichment of the enclosures;
  • A high standard of animal husbandry;
    A developed programme of preventative and curative veterinary care and nutrition;
  • Preventing animal escapes to:
  • Avoid possible ecological threats to indigenous species and prevent intrusion of outside pests and vermin.
  • Keep up to date records of the Zoo collection.

Officers rely upon the expertise of Zoo inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State in the interpretation of the standards during statutory inspections. Authorised Environmental Health Officers carry out annual inspections to ensure that licence conditions are adhered to and satisfactory progress is made where the appointed Veterinary Officer identifies the need for improvement.

The Officers also ensure the health and safety of employees, the self employed and the public using additional powers under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 where necessary.