Zoo licence

Zoos are regulated by the Council under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

A zoo is any premises where wild animals are kept (except a pet shop or circus) for the public to see.


You need a licence to run a zoo in Plymouth. The licence will be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.


The Council works in close partnership with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on all aspects of zoo licensing. The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, it is recommended that you contact us first.


The Council cannot consider an application unless at least two months notice of the application has been given, plus publication of details in a local and national newspaper, and a notice placed at the site.


The Council must consult the police, fire authority, governing body of any national institute concerned with zoos, an adjoining authority if the zoo overlaps the area of that authority and any person wishing to object on grounds of alleged injurious effect on the health or safety of persons living in the area.


The Council must arrange an inspection by a consultant inspector from the list of suitable inspectors nominated by the Secretary of State.


Apply, renew and change

More information about zoo licences is available on the GOV.UK website.