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Zoo licence

You need a licence to run a zoo if it is open to the public, with or without charge, on more than seven days a year. A zoo is defined as an establishment where wild animals are exhibited to the public. Circuses and pet shops are not defined as zoos and require a different licence.

You should publish a notice in a local newspaper and a national newspaper at least two months before an application is made. You must give notice to us stating:

  • the zoo's location
  • the types and number of animals, including the arrangements for their accommodation and wellbeing
  • the types and number of staff
  • the approximate number of visitors and vehicles which can be accommodated
  • how many access points to the zoo there will be and where these will be
  • how conservation methods will be implemented

Before granting a licence, will will consider any inspectors' reports and consult with you about any conditions that have been proposed.

For existing licence-holders, applications to renew will not be considered any later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unlicensed activities and, if convicted, you could be given a £2,500 fine.

Apply for a licence (PDF)

If your application is unsuccessful, you may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days.

For more information see: