It is unlawful to operate a Zoo, as defined in the Zoo Licencing Act 1981 except under the authority of a licence issued under this Act by the local authority for the area within which the whole or major part of the zoo is situated.

A zoo is defined as an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public otherwise than for the purposes of a circus or a pet shop, to which members of the public have access, with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months. 'Wild Animals' are defined as animals not normally domesticated in Great Britain.

Planning permission is required before a Zoo licence may be granted. If you wish to find out more about planning permission please contact Planning Services, Rochford District Council, Council Offices, South Street, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1BW, telephone 01702 546366 or contact Planning using this online form.

At least two months before applying for a zoo licence, the applicant must give the local authority notice of their intention to do so, publicise their intention in a local and national newspaper and display a copy of the published notice at the proposed site. The notice of intention must be kept on a public register until the application is disposed of.

The local authority must take into account representations from the applicant, the police, fire service, any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos and the RSPCA and any representations showing grounds for refusal of a licence.

Before granting or refusing a licence, the local authority must consider inspection reports. Zoo Inspectors are required to take into account the standards of Modern Zoo Practice. Please see the Related Content. If the local authority is satisfied that the zoo could injuriously affect the health or safety of persons living in the neighbourhood or seriously affect the preservation of law and order, the application must be refused. There are a number of other specified reasons why the local authority may refuse to grant a licence including:-

  1. Animal Welfare provisions are inadequate
  2. The zoo is inadequately staffed or managed
  3. The applicant or any zookeeper has been convicted under animal and welfare legislation.


Zoo Licencing Act 1981.

Issuing Department


Financial Requirements

Please see the schedule of fees in Related Content below, which are subject to additional consultants fees and inspection expenses. Licences will not be issued until all Licence and Inspection fees have been paid.

Licence Duration

The first licence is granted for 4 years and any subsequent renewal for 6 years.

Renewal Of Licences

It is an offence to operate a Zoo without a current licence. Renewal applications must normally be made at least 6 months before the expiry date of the licence. The local authority may renew the licence by extending the period by 6 years. If there have been significant changes in management since the previous licence was granted or in the types of animals kept, the applicant can be required to apply for a 'first' licence again.
There are no licenced zoos within the Rochford District Council area.