Zoo Licence - Applying for a Licence

Zoo Licence - Applying for a Licence
Licence Summary

To run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you need a licence from the local authority.


You must comply with any terms or conditions attached to a certificate.

Information and guidance on the law

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence


Further information on the Zoo Licensing Act and the latest DEFRA guidance can be found at the DEFRA website.


For other queries, or to obtain hard copies of the above documentation, you can contact DEFRA at:Wildlife Species Conservation Division, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Zone 1/10, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EB. Tel: 0117 372 8209 or email: zoos.branch@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

How to apply

If you wish to apply to register for a Zoo Licence, download a copy of the notice of intention to apply for a zoo licence form and the application for renewal of a zoo licence form here.


A copy of our standard licensing conditions can be found here. However, these are for guidance only, as the actual conditions imposed on a zoo premises will relate to individual circumstances.

Application fees

Download a copy of the application fees

The application process

Applying for a Zoo licence is a complex process, and each step must be carefully followed.


At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to the local authority of their 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, the applicant 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 the local authority is available to be inspected at the local authority offices.


When considering an application the local authority must take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:


  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police in the relevant area
  • the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
  • any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living in the neighbourhood
  • anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it
  • any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, the local authority will arrange for an inspection to be carried out by a specialist vet and other authorised inspectors etc. At least 28 days notice of the inspection shall be provided by the local authority. The authority will then consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, and consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence


The local authority will not grant the licence if they feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.


An application may also be refused if:


  • the local authority are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo
  • the applicant, or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals

If there are any areas where improvement is needed, we will provide the applicant with the information needed to comply with the licensing conditions. The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, may also direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.


The local authority may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that a licence is not required.


Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by the local authority.


Once a zoo is licensed, we will inspect as appropriate and when renewing the license, and we may also carry out interim visits. As part of the licensing process, the zoo operator will need to update us with any changes to the business, and provide an annual stock list of any animals kept in the zoo.


Please note that details of any licensed zoo may be included on our web-site, and details may also be shared with other statutory bodies as appropriate.

Does Tacit Approval apply?

Tacit approval does not apply to this licence, as it is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 28 days, please contact us for an update on your application.


Please note that the overall approval process will take considerably longer than 28 days, to allow for the necessary consultation and inspection processes.

Appeals and Complaints

A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court against:


  • a decision to refuse a licence
  • 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 the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.


If your application is refused, or if you do not accept any of the licence conditions imposed as part of the approval, you should contact the officer dealing with your licence in the first instance. We will always inform you of the appeal procedures when refusing a licence, or on request. We will also inform you of our complaints procedure, should you feel that your application has been improperly processed. Further information on making a complaint can be found here.

Please Note - Torfaen County Borough Council (The Council) is under a duty to protect the public funds which it administers and to this end may use the information you provide within Torfaen County Borough Council for the prevention and detection of fraud. The Council may also share this information with other bodies administering or in receipt of public funds solely for these purposes. For further information, visit the National Fraud Initiative area of the website.

Last Modified: 04/03/2022
For more information contact:


Tel: 01633 647286

Email: licensing@torfaen.gov.uk

Back to top