Zoo Licences

You will need a licence from South Staffordshire Council to run a zoo in the area.  

What is a zoo?

For licensing purposes, a “zoo" means any establishment where wild animals (not pet shops or a circus) are kept for exhibition to the public with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months. 

Eligibility criteria

1. At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give notice to South Staffordshire Council in writing (including if done by electronic means) of their intention to make the application. The notice must state: 

  • 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 roles of staff to be employed in the zoo 
  • the maximum number of visitors and motor vehicles will be allowed on site at any time 
  • what the access to the premises will be for customers 
  • explain how the conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo 

2. At least two months before making the application, the applicant must also publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice.  

The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice to the local authority is available to be inspected at the local authority offices. 

What do zoo operators have to do?

Comply with the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. These standards cover animal welfare, environmental issues, conservation, education and research. 

Making an application

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and regulation is complex. 

If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, please contact us first for advice and guidance. 

The local authority will, when considering an application, take into account any representation made by or on behalf of:  

  • the applicant 
  • the chief officer of police in the area 
  • the appropriate authority – either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be in 
  • the governing body of the national institution concerned with the operation of zoos 
  • where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with powers to grant the license, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than the county planning authority) in which it is situated 
  • 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 representation might show grounds on which the authority has power or duty to grant a licence 

Before a licence is granted or refused the local authority will consider :

  • any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo,  
  • consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and  
  • make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out, at least 28 days’ notice of the inspection will be provided by the local authority. 

The local authority will not grant the licence if they feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures will be satisfactorily implemented. 

Sites will be fully inspected every 3 years by a team of experts, including by Government-appointed inspectors. 

These inspectors, usually veterinary practitioners, are appointed for their knowledge of the animals within the zoological collection and their experience in managing zoological parks of comparable size. 


This will be the actual cost of inspection. This will includes all veterinary and licensing officer time including inspections and administration. You will be invoiced after a decision is made.  

In years where there is no full inspection, an informal inspection will be made by Council officers. 

The law and guidance

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