Licence - zoo

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You need a licence to keep a zoo.  A zoo is defined as an establishment where wild animals (animals not normally domesticated in Great Britain) are kept for exhibition to the public other than for purposes of a circus and other than in a pet shop.

There are no licensed zoos in Bracknell Forest. Trilakes Animal Park was awarded an exemption under the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 by DEFRA on 30 June 2006.

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, we recommend that you contact a specialist officer first for advice and guidance.

How to apply

You can apply online:


We may refuse to grant a licence if the applicant or keeper in the zoo has been convicted under any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals, including: 

  • Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
  • Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964
  • Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
  • Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976
  • Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

What the law says

The relevant legislation is the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Application process 

Notification of intention to operate a zoo

At least two months before making an application for a zoo licence, you must:
  • give notice in writing to us of your intention to make the application
  • publish a notice of that intention in one local newspaper circulating in the locality
  • publish a notice in one newspaper with a national circulation and
  • exhibit a copy of that notice at the site
  • in the notice you must specify the kinds of animals, approximate numbers and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing - you must also include details of staff and visitor numbers, details of means of access to the premises, and also how conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo

Application for a licence to operate a zoo

When considering your application, we will take into account any representations received from the following:
  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police
  • the fire authority
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • the planning authority
  • any person alleging that the establishment or continuance of the zoo would injuriously affect the health or safety of persons living in the neighbourhood of the zoo
  • any other person whose representations might, in our opinion, show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

We will also consider any inspection reports.

How long will it take to process my application?

We aim to process your application within 28 days of receiving it. As it is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted, please contact us if you have not heard from us by the end of this period.

How to appeal

Please contact us first. If you are refused a licence or you want to object to a condition on the licence you can appeal to the local magistrates' court within 21 days of receiving notice of the decision.

Complaints about zoos

If you wish to complain about a zoo or if you believe that there has been a breach of licence conditions, please contact us so we can investigate.

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