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Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, any establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public, otherwise than a circus or a pet shop, requires a licence from the local authority.

In order to issue the licence, the authority will inspect the premises and consult other local agencies such as police, fire, planning authority etc. Licences are usually granted for 4 years.


View the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (opens in a new window)

Eligibility criteria

The local authority cannot consider any application unless details have been advertised in a local and national newspaper and a notice placed at the site.

Guidance notes

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. It is recommended that a specialist officer is contacted first for advice and guidance.


There are exemption for circuses, pet shop and any individual premises where the Secretary of State issues a direction that the act should not apply.

To apply for a licence contact your council.

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