Zoo Licence

If you keep an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition and to which members of the public have access, you may need a Zoo Licence.

What is a zoo?

  • A place where wild animals are kept; and
  • The public can visit for more than seven days in any 12 months, whether a charge is made or not
  • Wild animals are animals that aren't normally domesticated in Great Britain. This includes animals from abroad and animals/birds/reptiles that are wild in this country.

What should I do if I want to run a zoo?

  • All zoos in Great Britain must be inspected and licensed.
  • Contact the planning department and check if you need planning permission. We can refuse or defer a decision on a zoo licence application until planning has been decided.
  • Notify us that you are going to apply for a zoo licence - this is a formal process of 'notification of intent' and it must also be published in one local and one national newspaper. 
  • For more information, please read the Zoo Licence Application process.

Am I eligible to apply?

Applicants must not be disqualified from any of the following:

  • The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
  • The Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 to 1964
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951
  • The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • The Riding Establishments Act 1964 and 1970
  • The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
  • The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976
  • Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Relevant legislation

Zoo Licensing Act 1981

How much will the licence cost?

To check the current licence fees go to the Licensing Fees page.

We will charge you for the DEFRA appointed inspector's fees for the formal inspections needed when you apply and during the licence period.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a Zoo Licence, please contact us at licensing@swdevon.gov.uk

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It's in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted.

How long will the licence last?

  • Each original licence runs for four years.
  • Consecutive renewals run for six years.


For applications that are refused, and for objections to a licence condition, you can appeal to the local Magistrates Court within 28 days of written notification of refusal.

A notice of appeal must be served on the Council.


  • Contact us to complain about a zoo in our area
  • If you are not happy with our service, contact us and we'll try to resolve any problems
  • If your complaint is still not resolved, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.