If you keep an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition and to which members of the public have access, you may need a Zoo Licence from the Council. Remember, a fee will be charged and the property inspected.

What is a zoo?

  • A place where wild animals are kept and the public can visit for more than seven days in any 12 months, whether or not a charge is made
  • Wild animals are animals that aren't normally domesticated in Great Britain. This includes animals from abroad and animals/birds/reptiles that are wild in this country.

What should I do if I want to run a zoo?

  • All zoos in Great Britain must be inspected and licensed.
  • Contact the planning department and check if you need planning permission. We can refuse or defer a decision on a zoo licence application until planning has been decided.
  • Notify us that you are going to apply for a zoo licence - this is a formal process of 'notification of intent' and it must also be published in one local and one national newspaper. See Icon for pdf Zoo Licence - Application process, possible exceptions and target completion time [58.14KB] for more information.

Am I eligible to apply?

Applicants must not be disqualified from any of the following:

  • The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
  • The Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951
  • The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • The Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970
  • The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
  • The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976
  • Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Relevant legislation

Zoo Licensing Act 1981

How much will the licence cost?

  • To check the current licence fees go to the Licensing Fees page in the related pages
  • We will charge you for the DEFRA appointed inspector's fees for the formal inspections needed when you apply and during the licence period.

How to apply

  • Go to Gov.uk to notify us of your intention to apply for a zoo licence,
  • Go to Gov.uk and follow the instructions to download the application form to apply for a licence to operate the zoo.
  • Complete the form, and either save it to your computer and email or post it to us, OR upload the file, and continue with your application online.
  • Don't forget to make sure you have all your supporting documentation to hand.

How will my application be assessed?

See Icon for pdf Zoo Licence - Application process, possible exceptions and target completion time [58.14KB] for details.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It's in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted.

How long will the licence last?

  • Each original licence runs for four years
  • Consecutive renewals run for six years.

Failed applications

Contact us first to discuss any problems.


For applications that are refused, and for objections to a licence condition, you can appeal to the local Magistrates Court within 28 days of written notification of refusal. A notice of appeal must be served on the Council.


  • Contact us to complain about a zoo in the district
  • If you are not happy with our service, contact us and we'll try to resolve any problems
  • If your complaint is still not resolved, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.