You need a licence to run a zoo if it is open to the public, with or without charge, on more than 7 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 2 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 6 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.
If your application is unsuccessful, you may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days.
For more information see:
- our guidance to the Zoo Licensing Act (PDF, 726.03 KB)
- our fees page for the relevant fee
- our online Licence Register where all applications and licences are recorded
- GOV.UK for the rules about zoos