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Licence Summary

To run a zoo in Darlington, you need a licence from Darlington Borough Council. The licence may be subject conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

Eligibility Criteria 

You must notify us at least 2 months before applying in writing (including via email) of your intention to apply. The notice must identify:

  • The zoo's location
  • The types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises.
  • The arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
  • The approximate numbers and categories of staff the zoo will employ
  • The approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which you will provide accommodation
  • The approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
  • How you will put in place the required conservation measures at the zoo

At least two months before making the application, the applicant must;

  • publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper
  • one national newspaper
  • exhibit a copy of that notice.

The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice to Darlington Borough Council is available to be inspected at the local authority offices.

Regulation Summary

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 Officer of Police for Cleveland Police
  • 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 (other than a county planning authority), the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
  • 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, we 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
  • make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out.

We will provide at least 28 days notice of the inspection.

We will not grant the licence if we feel that;

  • the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it
  • seriously affect the preservation of law and order
  • if we are not satisfied that the appropriate conservation measures would be implemented.

An application may also be refused if:

  • Darlington Borough 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 Darlington Borough Council.

The Secretary of State, after consulting Darlington Borough Council, 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 a licence is not required.


There is no fee to send notification of your intention to run a zoo.

To apply for a licence to operate a zoo a fee of is payable.

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 28 days, please contact us using the contact details below. 

Download an Application Form

If you would prefer to download an application form, please download the document below and return it to us using the contact details below.

Failed Application Redress

Please contact us in the first instance using the contact details below.

If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to a Magistrates' Court [external link] within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

Licence Holder Redress 

Please contact us in the first instance using the contact details below.

A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' Court [external link] 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 Darlington Borough Council'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, Citizen's Advice [external link] will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre [external link]

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local Magistrates' Court. Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of Darlington Borough Council's decision.


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