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Licence to operate a zoo

To run a zoo in Hillingdon you need a licence from the Council.


Licence summary

Zoo Licensing Act 1981 requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in Great Britain.

The Act aims to ensure that, where animals are kept in enclosures they are provided with a suitable environment to provided an opportunity to express normal behaviour. 

No person in Hillingdon may operate a zoo unless they have first obtained a licence from the council.

What you need to know before applying

Definitions: Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 defines a zoo as an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months.

Licence duration

  • An original licence is granted for a period of four years beginning on the date the licence is granted.
  • An application for the renewal of a licence must be made not later than six months before the end of the period of the licence.
  • The local authority may either extend the period of the existing licence following an inspection and receipt of the inspection report or direct the applicant to apply for a fresh licence.
  • The duration of a fresh or extended licence is six years beginning from the end of the period of the existing licence.
  • A licence may be transferred to another person with the approval of the local authority.

Eligibility criteria: An applicant must not have been convicted of an offence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 or under

Exemptions: The Act does not extend to circuses or to pet shops, both of which are covered by other legislation.

Dispensations:  Dispensations can be granted for small zoos or for a zoo exhibiting only a small number of different types of animals which reduce the number of inspections to a reasonable level for a small establishment, but do not in any way weaken a zoo's obligation to achieve the levels of animal welfare and modern public safety set out in the Secretary of State's standards.

Zoo standards: Applicants for a Zoo licence are required to demonstrate how they meet the key areas contained in the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Pratice which reflect the following five principles:

  • provision of food and water
  • provision of a suitable habitat
  • provision of suitable animal healthcare
  • provision of an opportunity to express most normal behaviour
  • provision of protection from fear and distress

A zoo will also be required to hold a suitable insurance policy covering potential liabilities arising from the keeping of the animals concerned. The council may impose additional conditions on the licence to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

How to apply

Fees and Charges Fees for all applications: 2016-2017 [207kb]

Find out how to apply [32kb] for a zoo licence

If you are uncertain whether you require a licence contact the Applications Processing Team.

Further information about the application process [32kb]»

Offences and penalties

Anybody found guilty of:

  • operating a zoo without a licence
  • failing to comply with any licence condition
  • failing to comply with a direction to close the zoo or part of the zoo
  • failing to comply with a local authority's request for information
  • disposing of an animal kept in the zoo before preparing a plan and having it approved by the local authority
  • disposing of an animal kept in the zoo other than in accordance with an approved plan
  • failing to comply with a direction
  • obstructing or delaying an Inspector or Authorised Veterinary Practitioner or Veterinary Surgeon
  • failing to display the zoo licence at each public entrance to the zoo shall be subject on summary conviction to a fine.

The local authority may revoke a zoo licence if:

  • any requirement relating to the premises or conduct of the zoo is not complied with
  • the zoo has been conducted in a disorderly manner, has caused a nuisance or has breached any of the licence conditions
  • if the holder of the licence is convicted of an offence under this Zoo Licensing Act, any of the Acts listed above or of any other offence involving the ill treatment of animals
  • a person convicted of an offence as described is employed as a keeper in the zoo.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 29 Mar 2017 at 15:12