Zoo licences

To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a licence from the local authority. The licence will be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

How to apply

You can apply for a licence online using the Apply for an animal welfare licence form. The current cost of the licence is displayed on the first page of the form.

Eligibility criteria

At least two months before making an application for a new 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 of access points that will be provided to the premises and their positions
  • how required conservation measures will be implemented at​ the zoo

At least two months before making the application, you must also publish notice of your 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 must state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at our offices. Our address is:

Environmental Action Services
Millshaw Park Way
Leeds, LS11 0LS

Regulation summary

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (Chapter 37).

Application evaluation process

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 zooswhere 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 itany 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 arrange 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.

We may also refuse an application 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, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals

Will tacit consent apply?

No. In the public interest, we must process your application before we grant it.  If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact us.​​​

Contact us



0113 378 5959 (Mon to Fri, 9am and 4pm)



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