What is a zoo, how to apply and pay for a zoo licence, how to renew your licence, who else to contact, when do you not need a zoo licence, who regulates zoos and what happens if you don't apply for a licence.
A zoo is a place where wild animals are kept for the public to view. If you are unsure whether your premises fall into this category you can contact us online.
Alternatively, you can email us:
If you want to operate a zoo you will require a zoo licence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and 2002.
A person guilty of an offence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and 2002 is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £2500.
To apply for a zoo licence, the applicant must complete the notice of application to apply for a zoo licence and send it to the licensing team.
The applicant must then publish the notice in one local and one national newspaper and display a copy of the notice at the site of the proposed zoo. The licensing team will keep a copy of the notice for members of the public to view free of charge at any reasonable time during office hours.
Not less than 2 months later the applicant must complete and submit the zoo application to the licensing team along with the fee of £1200 or £650 for a small zoo.
The licensing team will then consider the application and may recommend that the zoo is suitable for an exemption under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) if its size and nature suggest that it is eligible.
A dispensation under Section 14(1) is where the licensing authority decides that the collection of animals is too small, or the types of animals present do not warrant a licence, ie a rough guide is less than 120 animals, no birds of prey or wild mammals.
A dispensation under Section 14(2) is if the operator of the zoo informs the secretary of state that the zoo is too small for a full team of inspectors then a dispensation can be granted, and the inspection is then carried out by just one zoo inspector plus an officer from the licensing team.
Dispensations can be revoked if the zoo breaks the terms of their dispensations.
A tacit consent does not apply to this application.
You can notify the licensing team using the online form below of your intention to apply for a zoo licence:
Intention to apply for a zoo licence online form
You can then apply for a zoo licence using the below form
Apply for a zoo licence online
Zoo Licence conditions (pdf 49kb opens in new window)
Model conditions (pdf 56kb opens in new window)
Please note: your application cannot be processed without your supporting documents.
For further advice on the application process please contact the licensing team, by using one of the following ways:
The Contact us option on the right hand side of the page
The licensing team will then organise an inspection with an approved inspector and consult with the applicant about any proposed conditions.
The licensing team must take into account any valid objections and consider the inspectors report before deciding to grant or refuse the licence. The zoo will be required to meet the standards set out in the zoo licence conditions below.
A licence will be issued for 4 years and an inspection must take place within the first year of the period of the licence and again no later than 6 month before the expiry of the 4 year licence. A local authority officer will also complete an informal inspection every year.
The licence must be displayed at all public entrances to the zoo.
If you apply online you can also pay at the end of the application by credit/direct debit.
Alternatively, you can submit a cheque made payable to 'East Riding of Yorkshire Council' with your application form.
You may also submit your application form and fee at any customer service centre across the East Riding area or by post to Licensing, County Hall, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU17 9BA.
If you are applying for a zoo licence you may also need to contact the Planning Section, Environmental Control and DEFRA.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website provide further useful information.
Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs -DEFRA (external website)
Zoo licensing act guidance flow charts – application and inspection process (external PDF)
Zoo Licensing Frequently asked questions (external PDF)
Defra Government Circular (external PDF)
An application to renew the zoo licence must be submitted to the licensing team prior to the end of the four year licence period, with a fee of £1200 or £650 for small zoos. A renewal at the end of a six year licence will have a fee of £1200/£650.
If the renewal application is granted, a licence will be issued for six years and a periodical inspection will be done once every three years with an approved inspector. If any conditions are added as a result of the inspection a local authority officer will ensure that these conditions are adhered to.
A local authority officer will also complete an informal inspection every year.
Apply to renew a zoo licence online
You do not need a zoo licence if you want to keep a collection of animals for public viewing that are all considered normally domesticated in the United Kingdom. Please contact email@example.com for further advice if you are unsure.
The licensing team are responsible for the licensing and compliance of the following of zoos.
If a business holds a licence it should be on display in a prominent position at the premises. If you have concerns about a premises operating under a licence, have a complaint or would like to report a business that you are concerned are operating without a licence you can contact the licensing team, either by:
Please ensure you provide as much information as you can to help us.
You will be required to give your name and contact details so that we can ensure that the complaint is genuine.
Your details will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed unless the investigation results in a prosecution at which stage your details would have to be disclosed.