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Zoo licences

Anyone who keeps an establishment where wild animals (as defined in the Zoo Licensing Act 1981) are kept for exhibition to the public otherwise than for purposes of a circus or pet shop and the public have access with or without charge on seven days or in more in a 12 month period must have a zoo licence.

Apply for a licence

You can apply for a licence or change a licence online on the GOV.UK website:

Please contact us for fee information.

Does tacit consent apply?

No. We must process your application before it can be granted.

Licence requirements

At least two months before making an application for a licence, you must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to the 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 and position of access to be provided to the premises
  • how required conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo

At least two months before making the application, you must also publish notice of that 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 state that the application notice to us is available to be inspected at the council offices.


The legislation covering this area is the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to High Wycombe Magistrates' Court (Law Courts, Easton Street, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 1LR, phone: 01494 651 017 email: within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Licence holder redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to High Wycombe Magistrates' Court against:

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

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of our decision as to the relevant matter.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, see GOV.UK: Consumer rights (external website) for advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre(external website).

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to High Wycombe Magistrates' Court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of our decision.

Contact information

  • Telephone: 01494 412 247