The Zoo Licensing Act 1981

This Act came into force on 30th April 1984. It regulates Zoos, which are defined by the Act as being establishments where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public. To be covered the establishment must allow public access (whether free or for a charge) for more than 7 days in any consecutive 12 month period. The Act does not cover Circuses or Pet Shops. Under this Act :

  1. A Zoo must possess a licence granted by the local authority
  2. The first licence is usually granted for a 4 year period, and subsequent licences for 6 year periods.
  3. The Zoo must notify the public of it's intention to obtain a licence, and provide specific information to the authority.
  4. The establishment must be inspected by a group of not more than 5 people - two of which must be veterinarians one of whom (as well as one of the other Inspectors) must be included on a list of approved Inspectors held by the Secretary of State.
  5. The Secretary of State also has powers to specify standards of practice to be enforced on Zoos
  6. The local authority must take into consideration any representations from the public, Police, Fire authority, National Zoo institutions, it's appointed inspectors and anyone else, as well as the applicant before granting a licence.
  7. The local authority can impose conditions (e.g. relating to safety, record-keeping, insurance) on the Zoo which it must abide by.
  8. The Zoo must re-apply for renewal of it's license at least 6 months before the expiry of the existing licence.

A copy of the original Act can be found here : 

Updates to the original Act can be found here : 


Updated October 2013


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