The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 came into force in 1984. This law requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in Great Britain. It 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.
What does the law cover?
A zoo is defined in the act as being 'an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition... to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, on more than seven 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 law recognises this wide range of establishments by allowing dispensations to be granted for small zoos. Dispensations for these types of collections reduce the number of inspectors to a reasonable level for a small establishment, and do not in any way weaken a zoo's obligation to achieve the levels of animal welfare and modern public safety set out in the Secretary of State's standards.
The law does not extend to circuses, or to pet shops, both of which are covered by other legislation.
Apply by post
You can download an application form to give notice of your intention to apply for a zoo licence here:
You can download an application form to apply for a zoo licence here:
You can download an application form to renew a zoo licence here:
You will need to complete an application form, and send it with the appropriate fee and any documents referred to on the form to:
Worcester City Council Licensing, Worcestershire Regulatory Services, Wyre Forest House, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY11 7WF
The current fee to apply for a zoo licence can be found on our licensing fees and charges page. You must also meet the costs of the vet inspection that is required as part of the application process.
You can find further information on zoos on the GOV.UK website.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please get in touch.