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If you intend to operate a Zoo you will need a Zoo licence. A Zoo is defined as any establishment where "wild animals" are kept for the exhibition to the public, other than in a Circus or Licensed Pet Shop.

This applies whether or not there is a fee charged to enter the establishment.

The public must also be able to have access for more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months.

The wide scope of this definition means that licensed zoos range from traditional urban zoos and safari parks to small specialist collections such as butterfly houses and aquaria.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in Great Britain. The Act aims to ensure that, where animals are kept in enclosures, they are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity to express most normal behaviour.

Eligibility Criteria

The Local Authority may 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 a relevant offence - including an offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.

For further information see the Zoo Licensing (Eligibility Criteria) Guidance Note at the bottom of this webpage.

An applicant for a licence will need to consider whether planning permission is required for the proposed licensed activity. They should contact the Council's Planning Department to discuss whether permission will be needed.

Applicants must pay the required licence application fee and comply with any conditions attached to the licence.

Regulations Summary

Follow this link to view the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

You will  be recharged DEFRA appointed inspectors fees for any formal inspections that take place during the licence period and on application.

Each original licence will run for four years, consecutive renewals will run for six years.

For small zoos or for a zoo exhibiting only a small number of different kinds of animals the Secretary of State has powers to relax the requirements of the Act. We can seek a direction that the Act shall not apply at all (Section 14(1)(a)) or that certain category of inspection is not required (Section 14(1)(b)

Alternatively, the zoo operator, on applying to the Secretary of State for a zoo licence, may be granted a dispensation (Section 14(2)) to reduce the number of inspections to a reasonable level for a small establishment. This doesn't reduce the zoo's obligation to achieve the levels of animal welfare and public safety set out in the Secretary of State's Standards.

Application Evaluation Process

For new applications, at least two months prior to placing an application with us the potential zoo operator must provide in writing their intention to make an application. A published notice must also 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.The notice must identify:

  • The zoo's location
  • The 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.

We 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.

Once this period of time has lapsed, an application form can be submitted along with the current fee. For renewals an application form should be sent to us 6 months prior to the licence expiring.

An inspection is carried out by a Secretary of State appointed inspector who will produce a report of his findings. Based on the report and other considerations we will grant or refuse to grant a licence. The operator will receive a written statement of the grounds for any refusal.

Periodic inspections, with Secretary of State appointed inspectors, occur as a minimum at renewal stage (i.e. within the six months leading to the expiry date) and in the first year of the original licence and in the third year of the six-year period of a renewal. We can request a special inspection by an appointed competent person where concerns have arisen. In any calendar year where no other inspection has taken place, an informal inspection is carried out by an appointed person.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 specifies conservation measures that must be undertaken by the zoo. The licence will contain appropriate conditions with regard to these measures and the Secretary of State issues model conditions for zoo licences. We also have discretion to attach any condition(s) deemed necessary or desirable for the proper conduct of the zoo.

The Secretary of State issues guidance of standards of practice that zoos should meet which apply in England. Copies of the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice are available from DEFRA or download at Standards of Modern Zoo Practice.

Tacit Consent

Please note that Tacit Consent does not apply to Zoo licence applications. This means that you must wait for us to determine your application before a Zoo may begin operating. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted.


Licence fees and the Zoo inspectors fees will apply.

Failed Application Redress

Please contact us in the first instance if you have any concerns or issues.

If your licence has been refused or you object to a condition attached to it then you may appeal to the local Magistrates court.

Licence Holder Complaints

Please contact us in the first instance if you have any concerns or issues.

If you wish to make a formal complaint please refer to our complaints policy.

If you object to a condition attached to your licence then you may appeal to the local Magistrates court.

Consumer Complaint

If you have any concerns regarding a zoo animal in the East Lindsey District please contact us.

Zoo Licence Register

This register is not currently available online but should you wish to see a copy please contact The Environmental Health Department using the contact details set out below.

The Environmental Health Department, East Lindsey District Council, Tedder Hall, Manby Park, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 8UP