Apply for an animal licence

You need different licences for breeding, keeping, training, hiring out and selling animals.

Zoo licence

You’ll need a zoo licence if you’ll be displaying wild animals to the public for at least seven days a year, in any place that is not a circus or pet shop.

To get a licence, your zoo must:

  • help educate people about biodiversity
  • be suitable for the types of animals you keep
  • have a high standard of animal care
  • do as much as possible to stop any animals escaping
  • stop pests and vermin getting into the zoo.

You must also do at least one of the following:

  • Conservation research or training.
  • Share conservation information.
  • Breed captive animals.
  • Help repopulate or reintroduce species into the wild.

Before you can get a licence, you’ll need to tell your local council how you’ll do this.

You must make sure that the zoo will not affect:

  • the health and safety of local people
  • local law and order
  • the animals’ wellbeing.

You won’t get a licence if anyone working in or managing the zoo has committed an animal welfare offence.

How to apply

Write to the council at least two months before 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 notice that you’re intending to apply in at least one local and one national newspaper
  • display the notice at the planned zoo site
  • send a copy of the notice to the council: London Borough of Lambeth Animal Welfare Services, London Borough of Lambeth, Grimebusters and Pest Control, 26 Wanless Road, London SE24 0HW.

Before you get your licence, your premises will be inspected and you may have to pay a fee for this. You’ll get at least 28 days’ notice before the inspection.

After the inspection, the council might attach conditions to your licence, for example, that you’ll need to get insurance for any damage caused by the animals.

If you get a licence, you’ll be inspected regularly to make sure you’re following these conditions. You must keep records on animal health, numbers and species, acquisitions, births, deaths (with causes), disposals and escapes.

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 will then last for six years. You’ll need to apply to renew it again six months before it expires.

If you want to transfer your licence to someone else, the local authority will have to approve it first.

You must display your licence or a copy of it at each entrance to the zoo.

You could face fines 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.

Costs for this service

The licensing of zoos is quite complex and you are encouraged to contact us at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss your proposals.

A new applicant licence fee is £8662.50 (plus additional fees on successful grant to cover the fees of the veterinary officer appointed by the Department for Environment Food Rural Affairs (DEFRA) during formal inspections) and lasts for four years. 

Renewal of licence fee is £8662.50 (plus additional fees on successful grant to cover the DEFRA-appointed veterinary officer fees during formal inspections), and lasts for six years.