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Zoo licence

If you want to operate a zoo to keep wild animals for exhibiting to the public, you will need a licence.

The licence may be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo. The regulation applicable to this licence is The Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Giving notice of your application

Before you can apply for a licence, you must give us at least 2 months notice (in writing/by email) of your intention to make the application and advertise that notice.

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

Advertising your notice

At least 2 months before making the application, you must publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and display a copy of the notice. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice is available to be inspected at the council offices.

Licence fees

The fee for a new licence, to renew a licence or for a 3 yearly periodic inspection is £420 plus vet fees. 

Application evaluation process

When considering an application, we 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
  • 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
  • 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 will consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult you about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. We will give you at least 28 days notice of the inspection.

Renewing a licence

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than 6 months before the expiry of the existing licence.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent doesn't apply to this licence. 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 us.

Refused applications

We will not grant a licence if we:

  • consider the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living near it, or
  • consider the zoo would seriously affect the preservation of law and order, or
  • 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
  • the applicant, or if the applicant is 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 you 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.

Appealing a refused application

If you have been refused a licence, you may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' 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

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.

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