Dangerous or wild animal licence (zoo licence)

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A zoo licence is needed if wild animals are exhibited with or without charge for admission on seven or more consecutive days in any 12 consecutive months. For circuses and pet shops exemptions apply.

Licence summary

A zoo licence is needed if wild animals are exhibited to the general public with or without charge for admission on seven or more consecutive 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.

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, it is recommended that you contact a specialist officer first for advice and guidance on the details above.

The authority must consult the police, fire authority, governing body of any national institute concerned with zoos, adjoining authority if the zoo overlaps the area of that authority and any person wishing to object on grounds of alleged injurious effect on the health or safety of persons living in the area.

The authority must arrange an inspection by a consultant inspector from the list of suitable inspectors nominated by the Secretary of State.

Regulation summary

Zoos are regulated by the council under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and subsequent amendments.

Application evaluation process

Applicants must give two months' notice to the local authority of their intention to apply for a zoo licence.  A notice of their intention must also be placed in a local and national newspaper and a copy of the notice displayed at the site of the proposed zoo.