To run a zoo, we need to issue you with a licence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.
Your questions answered
Am I eligible for a zoo licence?
Before we can grant a licence for a zoo we need to confirm that:
the establishment will not injuriously affect the health and safety of persons living in the neighbourhood;
the establishment will not affect the preservation of law and order; and
the accommodation, staffing and management are adequate for the proper care and well-being of the animals.
We may refuse to grant a licence if the applicant, or where the applicant is a body corporate, the body or any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or any person employed as a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of an offence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 or for other offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.
At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give us notice in writing (including by electronic means) of their intention to make the application. The notice must identify:
the zoo's location;
the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing;
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, the applicant must also publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at our offices.
Is there a fee for the licence?
There is an application fee which must be paid at the time an application is made. An original licence granted under this Act shall be granted for a period of four years beginning with the date specified in the licence. A fresh licence granted under this Act to the holder of an existing licence shall be granted for a period of six years beginning with the end of the period of the existing licence.
How will my application be evaluated?
Before deciding an application we will consult the police, fire authority, governing body of any national institute concerned with zoos, the adjoining authority if the zoo overlaps the area of that authority, and any person wishing to object on grounds of alleged injurious effect on the health or safety of persons living in the area.
Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we shall consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. We shall provide at least 28 days notice of the inspection.
We will not grant the licence if they feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.
An application may also be refused if:
we are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo;
the applicant, or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.
Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by the local authority.
After consulting us, The Secretary of State, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.
We may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that that a licence is not required.
How do I apply for a zoo licence?
You can now apply for a zoo licence online.
Please follow the link on the right-hand side of the webpage to Business Link's UK Welcomes website where you will be asked to register with the site.
What happens next?
We have a target date for dealing with these applications which is 56 days. You can not assume your application has been granted once this time period has expired. If you have not heard from us within 56 days please contact us using the details supplied at the bottom of the page.
What if I have been refused a licence or do not agree with the licence conditions imposed?
If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.
A licence holder may also appeal to a Magistrates' court against:
any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition;
the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence;
a zoo closure direction; and
enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition.
The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.
What happens if I fail to comply?
If you do not have a licence or do not comply with any of the conditions, you may be prosecuted, fined up to a fine of level 4 (currently £2,500).
How do I complain about a zoo?
We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the service provider by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice or you can contact us directly. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
If you wish to complain about the welfare of the animals, nuisance caused by the operation of a zoo etc. or are one licence holder wishing to complain about another use the contact details below.