Renfrewshire Council

Zoo Licence

Any premises where animals not normally domesticated in Great Britain are kept, which are open to the public for more that 7 days in a 12 month period, require a zoo licence.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 defines a zoo:

"[as] an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public otherwise than for the purposes of a circus and otherwise than as a pet shop; and this Act applies to any zoo to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months".

How to apply

  • At least two months prior to placing an application with the authority the potential zoo operator must provide in writing its intention to make an application.
  • A published notice must 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.
  • Once this period of time has lapsed, an application form can be submitted along with the current fee.
  • Please refer to the fees and charges page for current cost of a licence.
  • An annual stock list must be provided along with any updated escape precaution procedures.

Application forms

Zoo Licence application form can be found in the 'related media' section of this page.

The licence lasts for one year. The onus is on the licence holder to apply for a renewal of the licence in good time, you will not receive any reminder from the Council. Please apply for your following year licence by 30 September to allow our Service time to process the new licence.

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 consulted.

You must submit any changes of circumstances to us immediately.


To get a licence your zoo must:

  • help educate people about biodiversity
  • be suitable for the types of animals you're keeping
  • 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 1 of the following:

  • conservation research or training
  • sharing conservation information
  • captive animal breeding
  • helping repopulate or reintroduce species into the wild


Public Health Enforcement Officers (Environmental Health), authorised in writing for this purpose and accompanied by an appointed veterinary surgeon, may inspect zoo premises.

You will get at least 28 days' notice before the inspection.

After the inspection the council might attach conditions to your licence, eg 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.

If you are refused a licence

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any conditions to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Sheriff who may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.

Disqualifications and cancellations

Before granting or refusing to grant a licence for a zoo, the authority shall:

(a) consider inspectors' reports made in pursuance of inspections of the zoo under this Act, or
(b) if no inspection of the zoo has been made under this Act, consult such persons on the list as the Secretary of State nominates for the purposes of this section.

The local authority will refuse to grant a licence for a zoo if they are satisfied that the establishment or continuance of the zoo would injuriously affect the health or safety of persons living in the neighbourhood of the zoo, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order.

The local authority may refuse to grant a licence for a zoo if they are not satisfied that the standards of accommodation, staffing or management are adequate for the proper care and well-being of the animals or any of them or otherwise for the proper conduct of the zoo.

They may also refuse to grant a licence if:

(a) the applicant, or
(b) (where the applicant is a body corporate) the body or any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or
(c) any person employed as a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of an offence under this Act or under any of the enactment's mentioned in subsection (5) or of any other offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.

The enactments are:

  • The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
  • The Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951
  • The Protection of Birds Acts 1954 to 1967
  • The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • The Riding Establishments Act 1964 and 1970
  • The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • The Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975
  • The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
  • The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976

Zoo licence register