To run a zoo, you need a licence from us. You must first complete a notification that you intend to apply, identifying: 

  • the zoo’s location
  • types of animals
  • approximate number for each group kept for exhibition
  • arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
  • approximate numbers and categories of staff to be employed
  • approximate number of visitors and vehicles for which accommodation is to be provided
  • approximate number and position of access to be provided
  • how required conservation measures will be implemented

Two months after the notification you can make an application for a licence. At this stage in the process, you will have to provide confirmation that planning permission has been granted for the zoo.

Publishing your notice

Before submitting your final application you must publish notice of your intention in one local and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice.

The notice must identify the zoo location and state that the application to us is available for inspection at our offices.

Applications will be rejected unless this process has been followed.

Zoo licences are valid for 4 years from the date they are granted and must be renewed before this period expires.

You must also tell us if anything changes regarding your zoo.

Further information about zoo licences

Application Evaluation Process

When considering an application, the local authority shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police in the relevant area
  • the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority) or, if the part is situated in Wales, the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
  • any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living in the neighbourhood
  • anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it
  • any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, the local authority 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. At least 28 days' notice of the inspection shall be provided.

We will not grant the licence if the inspectors feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in or 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:

  • the local authority 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 6 months before the expiry of the existing licence.

How we will notify you & timescales

It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 28 days of submitting your application, please contact us.

If we have an issue with your application, we will notify you of this in writing, your application will then be determined by our Licensing Committee where you will be invited to attend.


Please contact us in the first instance.

If an applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to the Magistrates Court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local Magistrates Court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of our decision.

Complaints & comments

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint, the first contact is made with the operator - preferably in the form of a letter (with proof of delivery).

Contact Licensing Team

Ask us a question

01142734264 Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm

Block C
Staniforth Road Depot
S9 3HD

Read the Zoo Regulations