Toggle menu

Zoo licence

We are responsible for licensing zoos in the New Forest. There are currently three premises that hold a zoo licence.

A zoo is an establishment that the public have access to, where wild animals are kept for exhibition for seven or more days in any twelve consecutive months. This definition includes urban zoos, safari parks, butterfly houses and aquaria.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) requires the inspection and licensing of all zoos in the UK. The Act aims to ensure that animals kept in enclosures are provided with a suitable environment to provide an opportunity for them to express most normal behaviour.

On this page:

Before making an application

For a new application, at least 2 months before applying, you must provide in writing your intention to make an application. Please contact us and we will send you a 'notice of intention' to complete.

You must also publish a notice in a local and national newspaper, at the proposed site and with us, to enable public comment. 

To be eligible to hold a licence, an applicant must not be disqualified from or convicted of any offences under animal welfare or wildlife legislation at the time of the application. In addition we will not be able to consider an application until any required planning permission for the site has been granted.

We may consult interested parties such as the police, fire authority, public objections and/or a national institution concerned with the operation of zoos in the UK (for example, if it is an aquatic zoo, we will consult an aquatic zoo specialist). Other persons whose representations might be relevant can also be consulted.

Once the two month period has lapsed, an application can be submitted.

Apply for a zoo licence

Please contact us to make an application

As part of the application process, an inspection is carried out by a Secretary of State-appointed inspector who will produce a report of their findings. Based on the report and other considerations, we will grant or refuse to grant a licence.  The operator will receive a written statement of the grounds for any refusal.

Tacit consent does not apply to zoo licence applications, and you must therefore wait for us to determine your application before a zoo may begin operating. This is because it is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted.


For the renewal of an existing licensed zoo, we will send an application form to the business. This should be returned to us six months prior to the licence expiring.


The fee charged for the zoo licence is based on the administrative costs of inspections and the issuing of the licence. You will also be recharged separately for DEFRA-appointed inspectors' fees for any formal inspections that take place on application and during the period of the licence.

Duration of licence and inspections

A licence issued following a first time application will run for four years. Consecutive renewal licences will run for six years.

You can expect to be inspected each year of the licence; this may either be a periodical inspection undertaken by a panel of inspectors, including secretary of state inspector(s), local authority inspector and local authority vet, or an informal inspection by the local authority inspector.

We can also request a special inspection by an appointed competent person where concerns have arisen.

Zoo standards

The Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice provide guidance on the standards that zoos should meet. Zoo operators should therefore have an in depth understanding and appreciations of this document.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 specifies conservation measures that must be undertaken by the zoo. An issued licence will contain conditions relating to conservation, as well as model conditions issued by the Secretary of State which cover animal welfare, environmental issues etc. We may also attach any conditions we may deem necessary of desirable for the proper conduct of the zoo.

Contact us

Email:      Phone: 023 8028 5411

Zoo Licensing, Environmental and Regulation, New Forest District Council, Appletree Court, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, SO43 7PA

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email