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Zoo licence

To run a zoo in South Ayrshire, you will need a licence from the Council.

The licence may be subject to fees, and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of the zoo.

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

How to apply

An application form should be completed to apply for or renew a licence and a fee is payable. The application must be lodged with Environmental Health & Trading Standards, 5-9 River Terrace, Ayr KA8 0BJ via post or by emailing your completed application to

Please note we can no longer accept cash or cheques.

Debit/Credit Card payments can be made by calling 0300 123 0900 and asking for Environmental Health. Office hours are Monday - Thursday 8.45am til 4.45pm and Friday 8.45am til 4pm. Applications will not be processed until Environmental Health are in receipt of the fee. Application fee is non refundable once application has been processed. 

What happens next?

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

  • the applicant
  • the chief constable of Strathclyde
  • 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
  • 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, South Ayrshire 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 the Council.

South Ayrshire 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:

  • South Ayrshire 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.

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

South Ayrshire 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.

It is in the public interest that the South Ayrshire Council must process your application before it can be granted. We would expect to process your application within 180 working days. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.

Will Tacit Consent apply?

In the interests of public safety, there is no automatic granting of a licence should we fail to respond to you. Tacit Consent does not apply.

What if I have been refused approval?

Please contact South Ayrshire Council using the contact details below in the first instance.

If the applicant is refused a licence, they may appeal to the sheriff within 28 days from the date on which the applicant receives written notification of the refusal.

A licence holder may also appeal to the sheriff 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 South Ayrshire Council's decision as to the relevant matter.

Consumer complaints

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