Zoo licensing

The Zoo Licensing Act applies to establishments where animals that are not normally domesticated in the UK are kept for public exhibition for more than seven days in any consecutive twelve month period.

Some establishments such as circus or pet shops and some businesses licenced under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 are not covered by the Zoo Licensing Act.

The Secretary of State may also issue a direction that the act does not apply to specific individual establishments on a case by case basis.

The Environmental Services Section are responsible for licensing zoos under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended). Specified standards of modern zoo practice have been published by the Secretary of State for the Environment and zoo operators and local authorities need to have regard to these standards.

Before granting a licence and during the term of the licence, inspections of zoos are carried out by a specialist vet appointed by the Secretary of State. Licences are granted initially for four years and need to be renewed every six years after that.

The applicant will be responsible for payment of the application fee and all veterinary fees.

You should contact the Environmental Services Section to discuss your proposals in full before beginning the application process.

Relevant documents and forms are available below.

Last updated: Wednesday, 6 January, 2021.