Zoo licence

To run a zoo in the borough, you need a licence from us. The licence will be subject to application, inspection fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo. View a summary of the regulation relating to this licence

Eligibility criteria

You must give us at least two months written (including email) notice if you intend to make an application. The notice must identify:

  • the zoo's location
  • the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition and arrangements for 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

You must also publish notice of intention in one local and one national newspaper and exhibit the notice. It must identify the zoo's location and state that the application notice can be inspected at the local authority offices.

Application evaluation process

The current fees for a range of animal licences can be viewed on the licence fees webpage.

When considering an application the Licensing Team will take into account 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 relevant area (other than a county planning authority) if the zoo is not located solely in Basingstoke and Deane
  • 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 show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse a licence.

An applicant will need to consider if planning permission is required and should contact the planning department. We may refuse or defer a decision on an application for a licence until the planning issue has been decided. Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, the Licensing Team will:

  • 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
  • make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out.

We will give you at least 28 days notice of the inspection or agree an earlier mutually convenient time.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 specifies conservation measures to be undertaken by the zoo, these will be contained in the appropriate conditions. The Secretary of State issues model conditions for zoo licences. We have discretion to attach any necessary condition(s) for the proper conduct of the zoo. The Secretary of State issues guidance of standards of practice that zoos should meet which apply in England. Copies of the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice are available from DEFRA.

The Licensing Team will not grant the licence:

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

An application may also be refused if:

  • 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.
  • any of the following have been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals:
    • the applicant
    • if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company
    • company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo,

The Secretary of State, after consulting the Licensing Team, may ask them to attach conditions to a licence.

For small zoos or zoos exhibiting a small number of different kinds of animals the Secretary of State has powers to relax the requirements of the Act. We can request that the Act shall not apply at all or that certain category of inspection is not required.

The zoo operator may be granted an exemption by the Secretary of State to reduce the number of inspectors to a reasonable level for a small zoo. The zoo still has a duty to achieve the Secretary of State’s standards of animal welfare and public safety.

The proposed zoo operator must pay any costs for an inspection to decide if an exemption can be granted.

Renewal applications

Applications to renew a licence will generally be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence. Each original licence will run for four years, consecutive renewals will run for six years. Failure or late application for renewal may invalidate any public liability insurance for the premises.

A charge may be required for changes to the licence for example name changes or ownership changes. A licence can be transferred to another person with the approval of the local authority. On the licence holder's death, the personal representatives are deemed to be the holders. This will last for a three month period following the death, or longer with our approval.

When to expect a decision

Tacit consent does not apply to this application. It is in the public interest that we process applications before they can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 3 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 below.

Apply online

Send notification of your intention to operate a zoo

Apply for a licence to operate a zoo

Tell us about a change to your existing zoo licence

Application forms can also be downloaded below and sent by post to the Licensing team.


Failed application redress
Please contact us in the first instance. Any person unhappy with the decision may appeal in writing within 28 days to the council's Licensing Committee. Alternatively you may appeal within 28 days to the Magistrates Court.

Licence holder redress
Please contact us in the first instance. A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court in respect of:

  • 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 28 days from the date the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision.

Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint you should contact the licensed premises in the first instance. This should preferably be 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.

If you wish to appeal against a decision to close a zoo you may apply to the local Magistrates' court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of the local authority decision.

Other redress
If you are not happy about other issues such as nuisance, safety or animal welfare for example please contact us.

Contact details

Licensing Team

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