Animal welfare licensing

Zoos

A zoo is 'an establishment 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'. 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. The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in Great Britain. The Act aims to ensure that, where animals are kept in enclosures, they are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity to express most normal behaviour.

How to apply

You can apply by downloading and completing the application form. You will also need to pay the correct fee.

We recommend that applicants check they have the correct permissions to use their property or premises for the business applied for. It's important to do this before applying, as the application fee is not refundable. Checks will be carried out by us to ensure all relevant permissions, such as planning consent are in place at the application stage.

Once a completed application and payment has been received, we will examine the information provided and contact applicants to arrange an inspection.

What to include when applying

You must give details about:

  • where the zoo will be
  • what kind of animals you’re going to keep and how many
  • how you’ll house and care for the animals
  • staff numbers and what they’ll be doing
  • expected visitor and vehicle numbers
  • zoo entrance and exit points
  • how you’ll meet the conservation conditions

You must also:

  • publish a notice that you’re intending to apply in at least one local and one national newspaper
  • display the notice at the planned zoo site

Fees

Details of the fees payable are available on our fees page. All of our fees are split into two parts. The first part of the fee is payable upon application and is non refundable. The first part of the fee covers the cost of processing your application, any inspection and follow up work. If your application is successful the second part of the fee is payable before the licence is issued. If you do pay both parts of the fee up front and your application is not successful, the part 2 fee is refundable.

Inspections

Zoo inspections are carried out by a representative of the Local Authority and two approved specialist inspectors. Zoo Inspectors are appointed under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. They are responsible (as part of a team) for inspecting zoos and making recommendations to local authorities on the granting of licences. The Act provides for inspectors to consider and advise on the well-being of the animals, the health and safety of the visiting public and those living nearby. One inspector will be a veterinary surgeon and the second inspector will be someone who can advise on the management of zoos. 

Documentation

Prior to inspection, you will be asked to submit a pre inspection audit. The audit provides the inspecting officers with details of the operation of the premises, the collections, staff and their qualifications, record keeping, veterinary provision, security and conservation works, amongst other things. Following each inspection a report will be issued detailing any works required.

Issuing your licence

Once inspected and upon completion of any required remedial works, we aim to issue your licence within 20 working days.

Length of licence

Zoo licences are granted for a period of 6 years, during the lifetime of the licence you will be required to undergo inspections at regular intervals.

Renewing your licence

Your licence will need to be renewed after four years. You might have to follow the same process you used to get the original licence. If you get your licence renewed it’ll then last for six years. You’ll need to apply to renew it again six months before it expires.

Public register

There is currently one licensed Zoo within the Borough - Chessington World of Adventures Zoo.

Fines and penalties

You could get a fine of up to £2,500 if you run a zoo without a licence or don’t follow the conditions of a licence.

You could also get a fine of up to £1,000 if you:

  • stop a zoo inspector doing their job properly
  • don’t display your zoo licence properly