Animal Establishment Licensing


Where wild animals are kept for exhibition, to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, seven or more days in any period of twelve consecutive months that establishment will need a license under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (opens in new tab).

The wide scope of this definition means that licensed zoos range from traditional urban zoos and safari parks to small specialist collections such as butterfly houses and aquaria.

What is not a Zoo?

  • Open less than 7 days in a 12 month period
  • A collection of entirely domesticated animals only
  • Circus

The Act aims to ensure that, where animals are kept in enclosures, they are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity to exhibit normal behaviour and keep the public safe.

If you have any welfare concerns for animals within a Zoo or believe a person is trading without a licence please contact us directly.

For more information on Zoo Licensing please contact the Animal Health and Welfare Team on 01437 764551 or email

ID: 2430, revised 10/10/2023