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Zoo Licence

A Zoo licence from the Council is needed if wild animals are exhibited to the general public on more than seven days in any 12 consecutive months.

Eligibility Criteria

New zoos, at least two months before making an application for a licence, must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to East Herts Council of their intention to make the application. The notice must identify:

  • 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 categories of staff to be employed in the zoo
  • the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation is to be provided
  • the approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
  • how required conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo

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 East Herts Council is available to be inspected at the Council Offices.

Application Evaluation Process

When considering an application East Herts Council shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • The applicant
  • The chief officer of police of East Hertfordshire 
  • Departments within East Herts Council, as the enforcing authority
  • The governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • A neighbouring planning authority - if part of the zoo is sited within that authority 
  • Any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it or in the neighbourhood  
  • Any other person whose objections may suggest we have the power or duty to refuse a licence application

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, East Herts Council shall 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 shall be provided by East Herts Council.

East Herts Council 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 would be satisfactorily implemented.

An application may also be refused if:

  • East Herts Council 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

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 East Herts Council.

The Secretary of State, after consulting East Herts Council, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

East Herts Council 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 that a licence is not required.

Fines and penalties

You can be fined up to £2,500 if you run a zoo without a licence.

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from East Herts Council by the end of the target completion period.

Apply and Renew Online

To apply for or renew a zoo licence you need to complete an online application form and pay the appropriate fee.

How long will my application take to process?

We aim to process your application within 90 calendar days.

Public Register

Details of licenced animal boarding establishments are available on our online Public Register

Failed Application Appeal

If you are refused a licence, you should in the first instance discuss this with the inspecting officer who will explain why you have not been successful and what works are needed in order to enable the Council to issue a licence.  If you are still dissatisfied with the reasons for refusal you can appeal to the local Magistrates' court.

Licence Holder Redress

If you are unhappy with any of the licence conditions added to your licence, you should in the first instance discuss this with the inspecting officer who will explain why they have been added.  If you are still dissatisfied with the reasons for any conditions you can appeal to the local Magistrates' court.

Consumer Complaints

Depending on the nature of the complaint, we would always advise that in the first instance contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery).  If that has not worked and you are located in the UK,  Citizens Advice will give you advice.  From outside the UK contact the  UK European Consumer Centre.