All Zoos are required to be licensed to ensure that, where animals are kept in enclosures, they are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity to express most normal behaviour, and to safe guard public safety.
The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 Act defines a as an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public otherwise than for the purposes of a circus and otherwise than as a pet shop; and this Act applies to any zoo to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months.
Applying for a licence
Two months before submitting a zoo licence application a written intention to apply must be sent to the council.
A published notice must also be placed in a local newspaper and a national newspaper. A copy of this notice must also be placed at the intended site for easy viewing and with the council for public comment.
An application form can be submitted along with the fee.
The council is likely to request representations from the police, fire service, public objections and/or a national institutions concerned with the operation of zoos in the UK (i.e. if aquatic zoo go to an aquatic zoo specialist). Other persons whose representations might be relevant may also be consulted.
An inspection is carried out by a Secretary of State appointed inspector who will produce a report of his findings. Based on the report and other considerations the council will grant or refuse to grant a licence. The operator will receive a written statement of the grounds for refusal.
You can apply through the GOV.UK website:
- Apply for a licence to operate a zoo
- Notification to operate a zoo
- Application to renew a zoo licence
- Application to change a zoo licence
The council work closely with Department of the Environment for Rural Affairs (DEFRA) throughout the licensing process. The Gov.uk - zoos webpage contains useful guidance documents and information for all zoo operators.