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The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 defines a "zoo" as an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public other than for purposes of a circus and other than in a pet shop (separate licences are required). This act applies to any zoo to which members of the public have access, with or without a charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months.




Licensing Team, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Civic Office, Holton Road, Barry, CF63 4RU

Application Forms


Application Process 

If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, it is recommended that you contact the licensing authority in the first instance for advice and guidance. You must submit notification that you intend to apply. Notice must be placed at the site and also published in a local and national newspaper. Two months following notification application can be made.

The notice to the local authority must be accompanied by:

  • Relevant application form
  • Site/location plan
  • Plan showing proposed layout of the zoo
  • Planning permission 
  • Animal accommodation plan 
  • Entrances and exits plan 
  • Stock list
  • Press notice
  • Public liability insurance certificate
  • Employer’s liability insurance certificate

Once the notice period of two months has passed application may be made accompanied by:

  • Relevant fee
  • Relevant application form
  • Notice of intention published in press
  • Notice of intention displayed at site
  • Amended stock list

Vale of Glamorgan Council will consult the police, fire authority, governing body of any national institute concerned with zoos, the 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 authority will arrange an inspection by a consultant inspector from the list of suitable inspectors nominated by the Secretary of State.


Before Vale of Glamorgan Council can grant a licence for a zoo in its area it must be satisfied that:

  • the establishment will not injuriously affect the health and safety of persons living in the neighbourhood
  • the establishment will not affect the preservation of law and order
  • the accommodation, staffing and management are adequate for the proper care and well-being of the animals

The inspector will produce a report of his findings and based on the report and other considerations the local authority will grant or refuse to grant a licence. This process may involve determination by the Council’s Licensing Committee. If a licence is refused the operator will receive a written statement of the grounds for refusal.



Each original licence will run for four years, consecutive renewals will run for six years. Failure or late application for renewal may invalidate any public liability insurance for the premises.

A copy of the licence must be displayed at every public entrance of the establishment.

Changes to the licence, for example name changes, and ownership changes can be undertaken at the request of the operator and a licence can be transferred to another person with the approval of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

On the death of the holder of a licence, the personal representatives of the deceased are deemed to be the holders during a three month period following the death, or longer with our approval.

For small zoos or for a zoo exhibiting only a small number of different kinds of animals the Secretary of State has powers to relax the requirements of the Act. The local authority can seek a direction that the Act shall not apply at all (Section 14(1)(a)) or that certain category of inspection is not required (Section 14(1)(b)).

Alternatively, the zoo operator, on applying to the Secretary of State for a zoo licence, may be granted a dispensation (Section 14(2)) to reduce the number of inspectors to a reasonable level for a small establishment. This will not reduce the zoo’s obligation to achieve the levels of animal welfare and public safety set out in the Secretary of State’s Standards.



Vale of Glamorgan Council will give a licence holder at least nine months notice of the expiry date of the licence. The application to renew the licence should be made at least six months before the expiry of the existing licence. If a request is made at least six months before the licence expires, the Vale of Glamorgan Council will be able to extend a licence without inspection for up to six years beginning at the expiry of the original licence.


Tacit Consent

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact us.


The target time period is 90 calendar days.


The initial notice of intention to apply will provide a period of 2 months for the authority to make necessary arrangements to embark on the next stage in the process.


With regard to the complexity of the licensing process, it is not possible to provide an exact time period for the grant or refusal of a licence. Time scales will vary depending on the size and nature of each individual application. Comments gained in the consultation period and from the inspectors report may vary widely, and some applications may need to go before the Council’s Licensing Committee for determination.


Background and Eligibility Criteria

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. We work in close partnership with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Details on the legislation and the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice.


The Animal Welfare Act 2006, places responsibilities for care and welfare of an animal, on persons who are in charge of or are responsible for the animal, whether on a permanent or temporary basis.


Vale of Glamorgan Council may refuse to grant a licence if the applicant, or where the applicant is a body corporate, the body or any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or any person employed as a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of an offence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 or under any of the following for any other offence involving the ill-treatment of animals:

  • the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
  • the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964
  • the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • the Riding Establishments Act 1964 and 1970
  • the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
  • the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976
  • part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 




A copy of the licence conditions can be obtained on request.



The application fee is £1275            


The applicant will need to pay any associated veterinary fees for DEFRA nominated inspectors.


Supplementary Information 


Animal Accommodation Plan - The plan must be accompanied by descriptive notes on the details it contains.


Entrances and Exits Plan - The plan must be accompanied by descriptive notes on the details it contains.


Planning requirements

An applicant for a licence will need to consider whether planning permission is required for the proposed licensed activity. They should contact the planning department.


Periodic inspections

Periodic inspections undertaken by Secretary of State appointed inspectors will take place at the following intervals:

  • in the case of an original licence an inspection will be carried out in the first year and no later than six months before the end of the fourth year
  • in case of a renewal inspection in the third year and no later than six months before the end of the sixth year

Not more than three inspectors appointed by Vale of Glamorgan Council will to visit the premises, and at least one of these will be a qualified veterinary surgeon or practitioner and up to two may be nominated from the Secretary of State approved list, only one is necessary if they fulfil both of the requirements above.


Vale of Glamorgan Council will give the applicant at least 28 days notice of their intention to inspect the premises and will inform the operator of the names of the inspectors. The operator can in turn appeal against all or any of them


The zoo operator may allow three representatives to accompany the inspection team. The inspection team will submit a report to Vale of Glamorgan Council who will in turn send a copy to the operator within a month of its receipt.


Special inspections

Vale of Glamorgan Council has the right to make special inspections in any circumstances which in their opinion call for investigation. The zoo operator must be given notice of the purpose and scope of the inspection and if the investigation involves animal inspection, at least one inspector will be a qualified vet with experience of zoos and zoo animals.


Informal inspections

In any calendar year where no other inspection has taken place, an informal inspection will be carried out by an appointed person from Vale of Glamorgan Council.



Offences and Penalties

The following offences and penalties are created under Section 19 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981:

  • operating a zoo without a licence in contravention of the Act
  • failing without reasonable excuse to comply with any conditions of a licence
  • intentionally obstructing an inspector in the course of an inspection
  • intentionally obstructing someone who is authorised in accordance with Section 16G to enter the premises of a permanently closed zoos or a dwelling within the zoo grounds
  • failing without reasonable excuse with a direction issued under section 16A(2)(d) to close a zoo or part of it to the public for a period not exceeding two years
  • failing without reasonable excuse to comply with a zoo closure direction
  • failing without reasonable excuse to supply information requested by the local authority about the care or disposal of zoo animals in the event of a zoo closure
  • failing without reasonable excuse and without the agreement of the authority, to dispose of any animal kept at a permanently closed zoo before the plan in section 16E(2) has been approved by the authority, or other than in accordance with the agreed plan
  • failing without reasonable excuse to comply with a direction issued under section 16E(6) (direction about the welfare or disposal of animals kept in a permanently closed zoo)
  • failing without reasonable excuse to display the zoo licence or a copy at each entrance of the zoo


Under Section 19(4) persons found guilty of any offence above are liable to a fine of level 4 on the standard scale, except obstructing an inspector, failing to supply information about the care or disposal of zoo animals in the event of zoo closure, or failing to display the licence or copy of it at each zoo entrance area for which are liable to a fine of level 3 on the standard scale.


Rights of entry

Local authority officers, authorised in writing for this purpose and accompanied by the appointed veterinary surgeon may inspect zoo premises having given 28 days notice in writing.


Complaint and Other Redress

  •  Failed Application Redress

    Please contact the Licensing Team in the first instance:


    Tel: 01446 709105



    Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence may appeal to the Magistrates Courts who may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.

  •  Licence Holder Redress
    Please contact the Licensing Team in the first instance:


    Tel: 01446 709105



    Any person aggrieved by any conditions to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates Courts who may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.

  •  Consumer Complaint
    We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. 


    If that has not worked and you are located in the UK Consumer Direct will be able to give you advice.    


    If you have a complaint from across Europe contact the UK European Consumer Centre.



Regulations and Guidance



Public Register




For other queries, or to obtain hard copies of the above documentation, you can contact DEFRA at:

Nobel House

17 Smith Square




  • (UK only) 08459 33 55 77 / (from outside the UK) +44 20 7238 6951 / textphone  0845 300 1998 



Trade Associations


World Association of Zoos and Aquariums  British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons