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Zoo licence

Apply for a Zoo licence.

Licence summary

  • To run a zoo in Scotland, you need a licence from the local authority
  • The licence may be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo

Eligibility criteria

At least two months before making an application for a licence, the applicant must give notice in writing (including by electronic means) to the local authority 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 the local authority is available to be inspected at the local authority offices.

Regulation summary

A summary of the regulations covering this licence can be found at:

What happens if I don't hear from the council within the specified time?

It is in the public interest that East Renfrewshire Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the council within a reasonable period, please contact us.


  • There is no cost to notify us of your intention to operate a zoo
  • If you're applying for a licence to operate a zoo, prior to approving a licence a veterinary check will be carried out on all animals and facilities. The applicant will be charged for all costs incurred together with a licence application fee of £330.00
  • To tell us about a change to your existing licence a veterinary check will be required in addition to a £300.00 application fee if there is any change to the animals or facilities
  • To renew your licence a veterinary report will be obtained by East Renfrewshire Council on the condition of all stock and facilities. The Applicant will be charged for all costs incurred in obtaining this together with a licence renewal fee of £330.00

Apply online

When applying for a licence you will leave this website and will be directed to the Business Gateway website. You are required to register with the Business Gateway website, this should take a few minutes, and you will be emailed your login details. A Help facility is available and is located at the top right of each application page - you can access this facility throughout the course of applying for a licence.

Application evaluation process

When considering an application the local authority shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:

  • The applicant
  • The chief constable in the relevant area
  • The appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
  • The governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • Where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area
  • 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 representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence

Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, the local authority 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 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 would be satisfactorily implemented.

An application may also be refused if:

  • The local authority 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 the local authority.

The Secretary of State, after consulting the local authority, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

The local authority 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.

Failed application redress

Please contact:

East Renfrewshire Council Environmental Health Section,
Capelrig House,
Capelrig Road,
Newton Mearns
G77 6NH

Telephone 0141 577 3782.

If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to the Sheriff at Paisley Sheriff Court, St. James Street, Paisley within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Licence holder redress

Please contact your East Renfrewshire Council Environmental Health Section in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to the Sheriff at:

Paisley Sheriff Court,
St. James Street,


  • Any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition
  • The refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
  • A zoo closure direction
  • Enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition

The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.

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 a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice Scotland will give you advice. From outside the UK European Consumer Centre.

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the Sheriff at Paisley Sheriff Court, St. James Street, Paisley . Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of the local authority decision.

Other redress

E.g. about noise, pollution, etc. Also should one licence holder complain about another.

Trade associations


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