Licence to keep zoo animals

If you want to run a zoo, which will be open to the public for at least seven days a year (in any place that's not a circus or a pet shop), you'll need a licence.

In addition to the traditional zoo, safari parks and specialist collections such as butterfly houses and aquaria are also classed as zoos.

A zoo licence will cost you a minimum of £591 plus vet inspection fees. If you run a zoo without a licence, or don't follow the conditions of your licence, you could get a fine of up to £2500.

Get advice about starting a zoo

The regulations that apply to running a zoo are complex, so you'll need to contact us for advice in the first instance.

We'll talk to you 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

Before we grant you a licence, we'll inspect your premises to make sure you have all the necessary arrangements in place to meet required conditions and standards.

You can read about these in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) standards of modern zoo practice.

Apply for a licence

You can apply for a licence by completing our zoo licence application form and returning this to

You'll need to contact us to pay the licence fee before returning your application; details of how to do this are on the form.