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Zoo licence

You need a licence to run a zoo in England, Scotland or Wales. These include:

  • traditional urban zoos
  • safari parks
  • specialist butterfly houses
  • aquaria

It does not include circuses or pet shops.

Before you apply

You must give us notice in writing, or by email, at least 2 months before you make the application. This notice must show:

  • the location of the zoo
  • the types and approximate number of animals you’ll exhibit
  • how you will accommodate, maintain and care for the animals
  • the types and approximate number of staff to be employed
  • the approximate number of visitors and vehicles
  • the access arrangements
  • how you’ll apply the required conservation measures

At least 2 months before making the application, you must also publish a notice in 1 local newspaper and 1 national newspaper and exhibit a copy of it. This must show the location of the zoo and state that the full application notice is available to view at the local authority offices.

View more information about keeping zoo animals on GOV.UK.

View guidance on the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.


Depending on size and type of zoo, you may get a dispensation that reduces the application fee. View Annex C of the Zoo Licensing Act guidance for more information.

You’ll also have to pay for any veterinary fees required.

A new licence is valid for 4 years and a renewed licence is valid for 6 years.

How to apply

Initial notice required, we will then take you through application.

Return your notice intention to

Or by post:

Licensing Team
Cotswold District Council
Trinity Road

What happens next

We’ll arrange an inspection of your premises and notify you at least 28 days before it occurs. We must consider any inspectors' reports before we grant or refuse your licence.

We’ll also run a consultation on your application, and consider the views and representations from:

  • the applicant
  • the local chief officer of police
  • the appropriate enforcing authority
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • the relevant local planning authorities
  • anyone with health or safety concerns for people living in the neighbourhood
  • anyone who might show grounds on which the authority can or should refuse to grant the licence

If necessary, we’ll refer the application to our Licensing Committee and invite you to the meeting so you can present your proposals.

We will not grant your licence if the zoo would:

  • affect the health or safety of people living nearby
  • seriously affect the preservation of law and order
  • not properly implement the appropriate conservation measures

We may also refuse if:

  • the accommodation, staffing or management standards are not suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo
  • the applicant, or incorporated company, or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or zoo keepers have been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals

We’ll also consult with the Secretary of State. They may ask us to attach one or more conditions to your licence.

If the zoo will only keep a small number of animals, or a small number of animal types, we may advise the Secretary of State that you do not need a licence.