You'll need a zoo licence if you'll be displaying wild animals to the public for at least seven days a year, in any place that's not a circus or pet shop.

To get a licence your zoo must:

  • help educate people about biodiversity
  • be suitable for the types of animals you're keeping
  • have a high standard of animal care
  • do as much as possible to stop any animals escaping
  • stop pests and vermin getting into the zoo

You must also do at least one of the following:

  • conservation research or training
  • sharing conservation information
  • captive animal breeding
  • helping repopulate or reintroduce species into the wild

Before you can get a licence you'll need to tell us how you will do this

You must make sure the zoo wouldn't affect:

  • the health and safety of local residents
  • local law and order
  • the animals' well-being


You also won't get a licence if anyone working or managing the zoo has committed an animal welfare offence

You can find more information on zoo licensing on the Defra website and in our zoo licensing guidance.


Zoo Licensing Act 1981

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2002

How to apply

At least two months before you make an application for a zoo licence you must give notice of your intention to apply.

To do this, the law requires that you must:

When the two months have passed you can then apply for a zoo licence.

Zoo inspections

Before you get a licence your premises will be inspected by a vet and you will need to pay their fee.

After the inspection we might attach conditions to your licence.  We will discuss this with you before doing so.

If you get a licence you'll be inspected regularly to make sure you're following these conditions.

You must also keep records on animal health, numbers and species, acquisitions, births, deaths (with causes), disposals and escapes

Renewing your licence

Once granted, a zoo licence will run for four years.  You will then need to apply to renew your licence no later than six months before it expires.  

On renewal your licence will last for six years.

The council will also carry out annual checks of the zoo during the term of the licence and can also ask for a vet to visit at other times if we have any concerns. 

Transferring or changing your licence

If you want to transfer your zoo licence to someone or change the details of your licence you will need to apply and we will have to approve it first.

Displaying your licence

You must display your licence or a copy of it at each entrance to the zoo so that it can be read by anyone visiting the premises.


If you have an issue with a licensed premises for animals there are different people you can contact depending on the problem.  

Public register

If you would like to view our public register for zoo licences please contact us.

Trade associations

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons