To run a zoo you will need a licence.

You must apply to renew your licence no later than six months before your current one expires.

Before you apply

You must give us notice of your intention to apply for a licence at least two months in advance. This must state:

  • The zoo’s location
  • Types of animals, the number of each group to be kept, and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
  • Numbers and categories of staff to be employed
  • Approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation will be provided
  • Approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
  • How required conservation measures will be implemented.

You must also publish a notice of your intention in one local, and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice. This must state the location of the zoo, and that the notice you gave to us can be viewed at our offices.


When considering your application, we must take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • The applicant
  • Chief officer of police
  • The appropriate authority
  • Governing body of any national institution concerned with operation of zoos
  • Anyone who states or alleges that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living near it, or in the neighbourhood.
  • Anyone else who might show grounds on which we could refuse a licence.

Before we make a decision, we will:

  • Look at any inspectors reports based on inspections of your zoo
  • Consult with you about any conditions proposed attached to the licence
  • Arrange to make our own inspection, giving you 28 days notice.

After consulting with us, the Secretary of State may decide that more conditions should be attached to the licence. We may advise them that a licence is not needed if the zoo only keeps a small number of animals, or if there are only a few kinds of animals kept.

Anyone carrying out this activity without the relevant licence could be prosecuted and face imprisonment, receive a fine or both.

How to apply

To apply for a zoo licence you will need to:

When we have confirmed receipt of both your application and fee, we will arrange to carry out an inspection of your premises with a veterinary surgeon or approved practitioner. You are required to pay the cost of this inspection.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before we can grant a licence. However you are advised to contact us to confirm your licence has been granted.

What to do if a licence is refused

We will refuse a licence if we feel that:

  • Your zoo would affect the health or safety of people living near it
  • Appropriate conservation measures would not be implemented
  • Accommodation, staffing or management standards are not suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or the zoo
  • You or (if you are an incorporated company) any of your staff have been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.

If you are refused a licence you can appeal to a Magistrates Court within 28 days.

You can also appeal against:

  • Any condition attached to the licence
  • The refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
  • A zoo closure direction
  • Enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition.

Any appeal must be made within 28 days from the date on which you receive written notification of our decision.

Public register

There is no legal requirement for us to keep a register, however there are currently no zoos in Wigan Borough.

© Wigan Council