Last updated: 28/12/2012
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A zoo is defined 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, 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
An applicant must not be disqualified from any of the following
at the time of the application:
- The Animal Welfare Act 2006
- the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964;
- the Pet Animals Act 1951;
- the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963;
- the Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970;
- the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973;
- the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976;
Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976.
- Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
An applicant for a licence will need to consider whether
planning permission is required for the proposed licensed activity.
They should contact the planning department to discuss whether
permission will be needed. The local authority may refuse or defer
a decision on an application for a licence until the planning issue
has been decided.
Applicants must pay the required application fee and comply with
any conditions attached to the licence.
Follow this link to view the Zoo
licensing Act 1981.
A fee of £305.00 will be payable in respect of this licence. You
will also be recharged DEFRA appointed inspectors fees for any
formal inspections that take place during the licence period and on
Each original licence will run for four years, consecutive
renewals will run for six years.
For small zoos or for a zoo exhibiting only a small number of
different kinds of animals the Secretary of State has powers to
relax the requirements of the Act. The local authority can seek a
direction that the Act shall not apply at all (Section 14(1)(a)) or
that certain category of inspection is not required (Section
Alternatively, the zoo operator, on applying to the Secretary of
State for a zoo licence, may be granted a dispensation (Section
14(2)) to reduce the number of inspectors to a reasonable level for
a small establishment. This doesn’t reduce the zoo’s obligation to
achieve the levels of animal welfare and public safety set out in
the Secretary of State’s Standards.
Application Evaluation Process
For new applications at least two months prior to placing an
application with the authority the potential zoo operator must
provide in writing their intention to make an application. A
published notice must also be placed in a locally circulating
newspaper as well as a national newspaper. A copy of this notice
must also be placed at the site for easy viewing and with the local
authority for public comment.
The local authority may request representations from the police
authority, fire service authority, public objections and/or a
national institution concerned with the operation of zoos in the UK
(i.e. if aquatic zoo go to an aquatic zoo specialist). Other
person(s) whose representations might be relevant can also be
Once this period of time has lapsed, an application form can be
submitted along with the current fee. For renewals an application
form should be sent to Cornwall Council 6 months prior to the
An inspection is carried out by a Secretary of State
appointed inspector who will produce a report of his findings.
Based on the report and other considerations the local authority
will grant or refuse to grant a licence. The operator will
receive a written statement of the grounds for any refusal.
Periodic inspections, with Secretary of State appointed
inspectors, occur as a minimum at renewal stage (ie within the six
months leading to the expiry date) and in the first year of the
original licence and in the third year of the six-year period of a
renewal. The local authority can request a special inspection by an
appointed competent person where concerns have arisen. In any
calendar year where no other inspection has taken place, an
informal inspection is carried out by an appointed person from the
The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 specifies conservation measures that
must be undertaken by the zoo. The licence will contain appropriate
conditions with regard to these measures and the Secretary of State
issues model conditions for zoo licences. The local authority also
has discretion to attach any condition(s) deemed necessary or
desirable 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 or download at
Standards of Modern Zoo Practice.
Guidance is also available with regard to conservation,
education and other issues via the zoos
Please note that tacit consent does not apply to zoo licence
applications. This means that you must wait for the
council to determine your application before a zoo may begin
operating. It is in the public interest that the authority
must process your application before it can be granted. If the
required two months notice of intention to apply is correctly
served (for new applicants only) we will aim to have your
application dealt with and licence granted or refused
with 160 days of receipt of the application.
How to apply
Please use the links below to apply online or download the
relevant application form:
Intention to apply for a zoo licence
Apply for a zoo licence (2 months after Intention to apply
form is received by local authority)
Apply to renew a zoo licence
Apply to change a zoo licence
Licence fees (currently £305.00) and the Zoo inspectors
fees will apply
Failed Application Redress
Please contact us in the first instance if you have any concerns
If your licence has been refused or you object to a condition
attached to it then you may appeal to the local Magistrates
Licence Holder Complaints
Please contact us in the first instance if you have any
concerns or issues.
If you wish to make a formal complaint please refer to the
council's complaints policy.
If you object to a condition attached to your licence then you
may appeal to the local Magistrates court.
If you have any concerns regarding a zoo animal in Cornwall
please contact us.
Zoo licence Register
This register is not available online but should you wish to see
a copy please contact us using the contact details set out