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Zoo licence

Registration of a zoo

If you wish to run a zoo you'll need a licence from Middlesbrough Council.

Zoo Licensing Act 1981

Zoo Licensing Act 1981 – guidance for applicants

DEFRA – Guidance on applying to keep zoo animals

Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice

Before applying

At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must:

  • give notice in writing (including electronically) to Middlesbrough Council of their intention to make an application. The notice must identify:
  1. the zoo's proposed location
  2. the types of animals, and approximate number of each group, to be kept for exhibition on the premises
  3. the arrangements for the accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing of animals
  4. the approximate number, and categories, of staff to be employed in the zoo
  5. the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation will be provided
  6. the approximate number, and position, of access points to be provided to the premises
  7. how required conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo
  • publish notice of the intention to apply for a licence in one local newspaper and one national newspaper, and exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the proposed location of the zoo and state that the notice of application provided to Middlesbrough Council is available to be inspected at the council's offices.
How to apply

Applicants will be given details of how to apply for a zoo licence after the notice period described above.

What happens next?

When considering an application Middlesbrough Council will take into account any representations made by, or on behalf of,:

  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police
  • the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority)
  • any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living in the neighbourhood
  • anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it
  • any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, Middlesbrough Council will make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. At least 28 days' notice of the inspection shall be provided to the applicant. The council will then consider any inspector's reports based on their inspection of the zoo, as well as consulting the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence.

The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, may request that one or more conditions are attached to a licence.

The local authority may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that a licence is not required.

Renewal of a licence

Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is allowed by the local authority.

Refusal of an application

The council will not grant the licence if:

  • they feel the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in or near it
  • they feel that the zoo would seriously affect the preservation of law and order
  • they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.
  • they are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals, or for the proper conduct of the zoo
  • the applicant - or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo - has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals.
Redress information

In case of dispute or to appeal a decision, please contact Middlesbrough Council’s Environmental Protection Team on 01642 726001.

Customer complaint

If you're a customer of a licensed/registered premises and wish to complain about the service or products sold, we would advise you to contact the trader in the first instance to resolve the matter. If the matter cannot be resolved please contact Environmental Protection Team on 01642 726001.

Trade Associations

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums