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Zoo licence

Please contact Shared Regulatory Services for informal advice before submitting a notice or application. Add your contact details to the form, and note that you want advice about animal welfare and zoo licensing.

To run a zoo in England, Scotland or Wales, you need a local authority licence. The licence is subject to fees, and terms to ensure the zoo’s proper conduct.

At least two months before making a licence application, the applicant must give notice in writing by letter, email or fax to the local authority of their intention to apply. The notice must identify:

  • the zoo's location
  • the types of animals and rough numbers in each group exhibited on the premises, as well as arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
  • estimated numbers and types of staff to join the zoo
  • approximate numbers of visitors and vehicles to be accommodated
  • the rough number and position of accesses planned
  • how required conservation measures will be applied

At least two months before applying, applicants must publish notice of that intention in one local and one national newspaper. Also they must exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the zoo’s location and state that the notice to the local authority can be inspected at the local authority’s offices.

When considering applications, the local authority will consider any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • the applicant
  • the relevant area’s chief officer of police, or in Scotland the chief constable
  • the appropriate authority, which is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be
  • the head body of any national institution of zoo operations
  • in England, an area’s planning authority for part of the zoo outside the licence granting local authority’s range, other than a county planning authority
  • an area’s local planning authority if that area has part of the zoo and is beyond the licence granting authority’s bounds, while also in Wales
  • any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people in the neighbourhood
  • anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living nearby
  • anyone else whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse a licence

Before granting or refusing licences, the local authority shall:

  • consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo
  • consult the applicant about any conditions proposed for attachment to the licence
  • make arrangements for an inspection

The local authority shall give at least 28 days’ notice of the inspection.

The local authority will not grant the licence if they feel that the zoo:

  • would adversely affect the health or safety of people living nearby
  • seriously affect law and order
  • not implement appropriate conservation measures well

An application may also be refused if:

  • the local authority does not believe that accommodation, staffing or management will foster the animals’ proper care and wellbeing or proper conduct by the zoo
  • an applicant, or an applying company or its directors, managers, secretaries or similar officers, or a zoo keeper, has been convicted of ill-treating animals

Renewal applications will not be considered less than six months before an existing licence’s expiry, unless the local authorities allow.

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

The local authority may advise the Secretary of State that a direction should be made that a licence is unnecessary. Such advice is relevant to zoos with low numbers or a low variety of animals.

It is in the public interest that authorities process applications before granting them. If you have not heard from the relevant authority within a reasonable period, please contact it. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes Service, or use the contact details below.

Tel: 01656 643643

Licensing Section
Bridgend County Borough Council
Civic Offices
Angel Street
CF31 4WB

Please contact your local authority in the first instance.

If refused, applicants may appeal to a magistrates' court or, in Scotland, to the sheriff, within 28 days from receiving notification of the refusal.

Please contact your local authority in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to a magistrates' court or, in Scotland, to the sheriff against:

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

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the licence holder receiving written notification of the authority's decision.

When complaining, make the first contact with the trader yourself, and preferably by letter with proof of delivery. If that does not work and you are in the UK, Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline can help. Outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local magistrates' court or, in Scotland, to the sheriff. Appeals must be made within 28 days’ notice of the local authority’s decision.


There is no other redress.

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