Zoo licences

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 came into force in 1984. The Act requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in Great Britain. The Act aims to ensure that, where animals are kept in caged surroundings, they are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity to express most normal behaviour. Zoos must comply with both the provisions of the Act, and with the requirements set out in the Secretary of State's standards of modern zoo practice.

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.'

This service is not covered by the tacit authorisation process as it is in the public interest that we process the application before it can be granted.

There are fees applicable to this process.


Any person who wishes to operate a zoo.

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.'

At least 2 months before a making an application for a zoo licence, the applicant must give notice, by way of a notification form (provided via the online facility on this website) to us. The notice must identify:

  • Zoo location;
  • Types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises and the arrangements for their 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.

A notice then should be placed in one local and national newspaper. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice is available to be inspected at the Sefton Council offices.
Following this 2 month notification period a grant application form can then be submitted (again provided via the online facility on this website).

Grant or renewal of zoo licence £734.20

When considering an application, we will take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • The applicant;
  • The chief officer of police;
  • Merseyside Fire and Rescue;
  • The governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos;
  • The Planning Authority;
  • 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; and,
  • Any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licenceAny other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we 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 and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. We shall provide at least 28 days notice of the inspection.
We will not grant the licence if they feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented. An application may also be refused if:

  • We are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo;
  • The applicant, or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.

Any licence granted under this Act may be granted subject to such conditions as we think necessary or desirable for ensuring the proper conduct of the zoo during the period of the licence, including conditions relating to the following-

  • precautions to be taken against the escape of animals, and steps to be taken in the event of any escape or unauthorised release;
  • records to be kept of the numbers of different animals, of acquisitions, births, deaths, disposals or escapes of animals, of the causes of any such deaths, and of the health of animals;
  • insurance against liability for damage caused by animals.

An original licence granted under this Act shall be granted for a period of four years beginning with the date specified in the licence as that on which it is granted or any later date specified in the licence as that on which the licence is to commence.

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless we allow for a shorter time period. Your renewed licence will last for six years.

Yes. If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to the magistrates' court within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.
A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court against:

  • 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 within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.