You must have a licence to run a zoo. A zoo is defined as an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition, where members of the public can view them on more than seven days in any period of twelve consecutive months.
Before you apply
At least two months before you apply, you must inform us in writing (either by letter or email) that you intend to apply for a zoo licence. When you notify us, you must tell us:
- the zoo's location
- the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises
- the arrangements for the accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing of the animals
- 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
At least two months before making the application, you must also publish notice of your intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper, and display a copy of that notice. The notice must show the location of the zoo, and state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at our offices.
You may also need planning permission for a zoo.
How do I apply for this licence?
At least two months after you have given notice of your intention, you can apply for your zoo licence. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to apply online.
Apply online for a zoo licence (external website)
When we receive your application, we will organise an inspection with an approved inspector, and we will consult with you about any proposed conditions to the licence. We will also assess whether the zoo is eligible for one of these dispensations, depending on the size and nature of the establishment:
- Section 14(1) dispensation: where the licensing authority decides that the collection of animals is too small, or the types of animals present do not warrant a licence. An example would be less than 120 animals, with no birds of prey or wild mammals.
- Section 14(2) dispensation: where you inform the secretary of state that the zoo is too small for a full team of inspectors. The inspection will then be carried out by just one inspector, plus an officer from the licensing team.
If your zoo licence is due for renewal, you can renew online.
Renew a zoo licence online (external website)
Let us know about a change
If you already have a zoo licence and your circumstances change, let us know.
Let us know about a change to zoo licence online (external website)
How much does it cost?
A new zoo licence costs £680, and lasts 4 years. After that it will cost £720 to renew your licence. A licence renewal is valid for 6 years.
If your zoo has S.14(2) dispensation, the licence will cost £250 for the first year, and £350 to renew every year after that.
If your zoo has S.14(1) dispensation, there will be no charge for the licence.
When you apply for your licence online you will pay the fee online, by debit or credit card.
Current licensed zoos