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Zoo Licence

To run a zoo in England you need a licence from the local authority. The licence may be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

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Licence Summary

To run a zoo in England you need a licence from the local authority. The licence may be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

Eligibility Criteria

At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give pdf icon notice in writing (including by electronic means) to the local authority [51kb] 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 pdf icon publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper [14kb] 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.

Regulation Summary

 A summary of the regulation relating to this licence


 Please click link opposite to find out the fee for a Zoo Licence.

Application Evaluation Process

When considering an application Colchester Borough Council shall 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
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority) or, if the part is situated in Wales, 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, Colchester Borough Council shall consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. At least 28 days notice of the inspection shall be provided by the local authority.

Colchester Borough Council 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

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.

The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

The Council 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 that a licence is not required.

Application Guidance 

There are no specific guidance notes for completing the application other than the information given on this page and on the form.
Target Completion PeriodThe target completion period for a zoo licence application is 28 days (excluding the period of the notice of intention).

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it. You can do this online if you applied through .GOV.UK or using the contact details given on the top right hand side of this page. 

Apply and Pay Online

 We are sorry but the facility to make electronic applications is not yet available.  For a PDF version of the application form which can be printed and completed please click the second link below or see 'Apply via post or in person' below. .

Send notification of your intention to operate a zoo

Apply for a licence to operate a new zoo

Tell us about a change to your existing zoo licence

  Apply via post
   or in person

For PDF versions of the notification and application forms which can be downloaded, printed and completed, please click the links below:

pdf icon Application form for a new zoo licence [17kb]

pdf icon Notification of your intention to operate a zoo - to be sent to Colchester Borough Council [51kb]

pdf icon Notification of your intention to operate a zoo - to be sent to the relevant press [14kb] (as stated under the 'Eligibility Criteria's section)

pdf icon Application for a renewal of a zoo licence [17kb]

Failed Application Redress

 Please contact Colchester Borough Council in the first instance.

If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to a Magistrates' Court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Licence Holder Redress

Please contact Colchester Borough Council in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to a 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 Colchester Borough Council's 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, if you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice Bureau will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local Magistrates' Court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of Colchester Borough Council's decision.

Other Redress

 E.g. about noise, pollution, etc. Also should one licence holder complain about another. 

Trade Associations