Zoo Licence

To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a licence from the local authority.

The licence may be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

Am I eligible to apply?

At least two months before making an application for a licence, you must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to us of your intention to make the application. The notice must identify:

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

At least two months before making the application, you must also publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at the local authority offices.

Summary of the regulations

How we evaluate your application

When considering an application we shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • you, the applicant 
  • the chief officer of police in the 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 
  • 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 we have a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we shall consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult you about any conditions they propose that should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. We will provide at least 28 days notice of the inspection.

We will not grant the licence if we feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if we are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.

An application may also be refused if:

  • we 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 
  • you, 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, have been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by the local authority.

The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

The local authority may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that that a licence is not required.

Will tacit consent apply?

Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the us.

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What to do if we refuse your application

Please contact Bradford Council in the first instance. If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to a magistrates' court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Appeals by licence holders

Please contact Bradford Council in the first instance. A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court against:

  • any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition 
  • the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence 
  • a zoo closure direction 
  • enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.