A “zoo” is defined as “an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public” (save for a circus and pet shop).

Zoo Licensing Act 1981


Under s1 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 it is unlawful to operate a zoo (to which the Act applies) except under the authority of a licence issued under this Act.

A “zoo” is defined as “an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public” (save for a circus and pet shop). The Act defines “wild animals” as “Mammalia, Aves, Reptilia, Amphibia, Pisces and Insecta” which covers all multi- cellular organisms that are not a plant or fungus. To be considered “wild” for the purposes of the Act, the animal has to be one not normally domesticated in Great Britain. The DEFRA Guide provides some guidance on what animals will be considered “wild”. It is best to consider those that fall outside this definition are limited to animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, ferrets, rabbits, pigeons/doves, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, chinchillas, alpacas, llamas, budgies, canaries, and other domesticated birds and fish.

For a zoo to fall within the remit of the Act it has to be open to the public, with or without a charge, for seven or more days in any year. There are exemptions available for some small zoos from some or all of the requirements of the Act.

All zoos are required by the Act to undertake “conservation measures”. These are listed below. Zoos must carry out one of these:
• Research from which conservation benefits accrue to species of wild animals;
• Training in relevant conservation skills;
• Exchange of information relating to the conservation of species of wild animals;
• Where appropriate breeding of wild animals in captivity;
• Where appropriate the repopulation of an area with, or the introduction into the wild of, wild animals;

Zoos must also carry out all of the following
• Promoting public educations and awareness of biodiversity
• Accommodating their animals under conditions which aim to satisfy the biological and conservation requirements of the species
• Preventing the escape of animals
• Preventing the intrusion of pests and vermin into the zoo premises
• Keeping up to date records of the zoo’s collection.

The Council will attach conditions to the licence to reflect these requirements.

Applying for a Licence

The process for applying requires an applicant to submit to the Council a written notice of intention to apply for a zoo licence. This notice must be served at least two months’ before an application is submitted. In this notice there must be a statement setting out how the applicant intends to meet the conservation requirements. As part of the notification process the applicant must also publish a notice of intention in one local and one national newspaper. The applicant must also display a copy of the published notice at the zoo premises. The Council must make the notice of intention available for inspection at the Council Offices free of charge during reasonable hours.

There is no duty to consult within the Act; however, the Council must consider the representations made by:
• The applicant;
• The Police Constabulary;
• The Fire Authority;
• National institution governing zoos [Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) zooandcircusmailbox@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk[;
• Where the zoo is partly in another area that area’s planning authority;
• Any person alleging that the establishment or continuance of the zoo would injuriously affect the health or safety of persons living in the neighbourhood of the zoo;
• Any other person whose representations might in the opinion of the Council show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence.

An initial licence lasts for four years and is renewable, with subsequent licences lasting six years.

Current Applications

Please see below our current applications:

Date of last review: 25 July 2017