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.

The Council works in close partnership with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on all aspects of zoo licensing.

The licensing of zoos is a specialist field and the regulations are complex. If you are thinking of setting up a zoo, it is recommended that you contact a specialist officer first for advice and guidance using the contact details shown.

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 Falkirk 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 the local authority is available to be inspected at the local authority offices.

Regulation summary

Application evaluation process

A fee will be payable for applications and if the licence is granted conditions may be attached.

Fee type Cost
Zoo Licence £180 plus Vet fee if required

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

  • the applicant
  • the chief officer of police (or in Scotland 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, Falkirk 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 Falkirk Council.

Falkirk Council will not grant the licence if they feel the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in or 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:

  • Falkirk 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 Falkirk Council.

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

Falkirk 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.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that Falkirk Council must process your application before it can be granted.

If you have not heard from us within 28 days, please contact us.

How to apply

To apply, change or renew a licence to run a zoo you can complete the form below and send it to Falkirk Council by email or post:

Please also include the following with your application:

  • Site/location plan
  • Plan showing proposed layout of the zoo
  • Planning permission
  • Animal accommodation plan
  • Entrances and exits plan
  • Stock list
  • Public liability insurance certificate
  • Employer's liability insurance certificate
  • Notice of intention published in press
  • Notice of intention displayed at site
  • Any other supporting documentation

Failed application and licence holder redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

A licence holder may appeal to the Sheriff in Scotland against:

  • 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

If you have a complaint, please contact the trader first, preferably in writing. If you do this by letter, make sure you get proof of delivery.

If you’ve done this and feel your complaint still hasn’t been resolved, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

But if you do not live in the UK, you’ll need to contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

For example; complaints about noise, pollution, etc should be directed to the Environmental Protection Unit.

Environmental Protection Unit
Abbotsford House
Davids Loan
Falkirk
FK2 7YZ
01324 504982