Dangerous wild animals licence

To keep a dangerous wild animal as listed in the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 Act, a person must obtain a licence from us. Further information on licenses to keep a wild animal can be found on the GOV.UK website. The Act does not contain a definition for a dangerous wild animal, instead it lists in a Schedule those animals that are subject to the provisions of the Act, which include tigers, monkeys, venomous snakes and spiders.

The Act does not apply to dangerous wild animals kept in zoos, circuses, pet shops or designated establishments within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, as these are covered by separate legislation.

Primates

Primates are wild animals that should never be kept as pets, but the demand for these exotic animals still exists, and may even be increasing due to the effect of the internet. But it's important to remember that primates are wild animals with special needs (detailed on the RSPCA website) that differ to those of domestic animals. They are intelligent animals with complex physical, emotional and social requirements that can’t be met in a domestic environment. What’s more, they can become aggressive and dangerous when they reach maturity, and have been known to attack their owners.

How to report a primate in distress

If you see a primate in need, you can report it to Monkey World who will investigate and take further action if necessary. The more detail you can give, including – where possible – a photograph, the better.

Report a primate in need - Monkey World

The Animal Welfare (Primate Licences) (England) Regulations 2023

The Animal Welfare (Primate Licences) (England) Regulations 2023 has been signed into law and will come into force from 6 April 2026.

The legislation brings in a licensing scheme, setting strict rules to ensure that only private keepers who can provide zoo-level welfare standards will be able to keep primates.

Primates have complex welfare and social needs and, according to most experts, cannot be properly cared for in domestic environments. Evidence, including from the 2019 Call for Evidence ‘Welfare of primates as pets in England’, and the 2020 and 2023 consultations on Primates as Pets in England welcomed regulations for primates and confirmed that Primates are often kept in unsuitable conditions, and by owners who are uninformed about the animals’ complex welfare needs. The new regulations will improve the welfare of potentially thousands of these intelligent animals and fulfils a manifesto commitment and Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge.

These Regulations are made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and will prohibit the keeping of primates as pets in England without a specialist licence. Private primate keepers will be subject to a strict inspection regime to ensure welfare and licensing standards are upheld. From 6 April 2026, it will be an offence for anyone to keep a primate without a relevant licence. Failure to comply with licence conditions could result in an unlimited fine, removal of the primate or imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months.

Next steps for primate keepers

Existing primate keepers will have 2 years until 6 April 2026 to reach compliance with the welfare and licensing standards.

From 6 April 2026 all private primate keepers will be required to hold a licence, valid for a maximum of three years, and undergo reassessment to renew their permission to keep these animals.

Licence eligibility criteria

Applicants must be over 18 years of age and must have not been disqualified under this act from keeping any dangerous wild animal.

Application evaluation process

An application form must be completed and submitted with the fee. The current fees are available by visiting our Licence Fees webpage.

Before deciding an application the Licensing Team must consider a report from a veterinary surgeon or practitioner detailing whether the premises are suitable to house the particular dangerous wild animal declared on the application.

Once your application is received, a licensing officer will contact you to make arrangements to carry out an inspection of your premises with our authorised vet. The inspection will be to ensure that the premises meet the required standards in the legislation, to decide whether the premises are such that any animal proposed to be kept under the authority of the licence may suitably be held there and describing the condition of the premises and of any other animal found there. Where the Licensing Team grants a licence it shall be granted with conditions. These will be standard licence conditions plus any conditions appropriate to the animals being subject to the licence including:

  • a requirement that the animal be kept only by a person or persons named on the licence
  • a requirement that the applicant is a suitable person and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure
  • restrictions on the movement of the animal from the premises as specified on the licence
  • a requirement that the licence holder has a current insurance policy which ensures both licence holders and others against any liability caused by the animal.

Conditions can be attached to a licence to ensure that the above are complied with.

A licence is valid for two years from the date it is granted.

When to expect a decision

The Licensing Team must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within three months of the application please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Apply

Apply for a dangerous wild animal licence (GOV.UK website)

Redress

Failed application redress
Please contact us in the first instance. Any licence holder unhappy with a condition attached to a licence may appeal in writing within 21 days to the Council's Licensing Committee. Alternatively you may appeal within 21 days to the Magistrates Court.

Licence holder redress
Any licence holder who objects to a condition attached to a licence may appeal in writing within 21 days to the Council's Licensing Committee. Alternatively you may appeal within 21 days to the Magistrates Court.

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 of 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.

Other redress
If you are not happy about other issues such as nuisance (for example noise, dust and drainage), please contact us using the licensing complaint form.

Contact details

Licensing Team

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