Dangerous, exotic or wild animals licence

Anyone wishing to keep an animal listed in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act requires a licence.
This licensing procedure does not apply to animals kept in:
  • a zoological garden;
  • a circus;
  • a pet shops;
  • a place registered under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 for the purpose of performing experiments.
A person is held to be the keeper of the animal if he has it in his possession, and possession continues even if the animal escapes or it is being transported etc. This removes the need for carriers or veterinary surgeons to be licensed.

How to apply

Any application made to a Licensing Authority for a licence must be made (unless in exceptional circumstances) by the person who proposes to own and possess the animal and must:
  • specify the species and number of animals to be kept
  • specify the premises where the animals will normally be kept
  • be made to the Licensing Authority for those premises
  • be made by a person 18 years of age or over and not disqualified from holding a licence under the Act
  • be accompanied by a fee stipulated by the Licensing Authority at a level sufficient to meet the direct and indirect costs involved
Applications not complying with these requirements may not be granted.

View the licensing register to see a list of licence holders. 

Inspection of the premises

Before granting any Licence, we are required to consider a report of an inspection of the premises by an authorised veterinary surgeon or practitioner.

Matters for Consideration

We may not grant a licence unless:
it will not be contrary to the public interest on grounds of safety, nuisance or otherwise to issue a licence; the applicant is suitable; and animals will:
  • be held in secure accommodation, suitable in size for the animals kept, and which is suitable as regards construction, temperature, lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness
  • have adequate and suitable food, drink and bedding and be visited at regular intervals
  • be appropriately protected in case of fire or other emergency
  • be subject to precautions to control infectious diseases
  • be provided with adequate exercise facilities


According to the wishes of the applicant, a licence comes into force on either the day on which it is granted in which case it expires on 31 December of that same year, or on 1 January next in which case it expires on 31 December of that next year. If an application for renewal is made before the date of expiration, the licence continues, until the application is determined.
On the death of a licence holder, the licence continues in the name of the personal representatives for 28 days only and then expires unless application is made for a new licence within that time, in which case it continues, until the new application is determined.


The Licensing Authority is required to specify conditions which:
  • require the animals to be kept only by persons specified in the licence;
  • require the animals to be normally held at the premises specified in the licence;
  • require the animals not to be moved from those premises unless in circumstances allowed for in the licence;
  • require the licence holder and person keeping the animals to be insured against liability for damage caused by the animals to the satisfaction of the Licensing Authority;
  • restrict the species and numbers of animals;
  • require a copy of the licence to be made available by the licence holder to persons entitled to keep the animals; and
  • any other conditions necessary or desirable to secure the objectives specified in paragraphs listed under 'matters for consideration' above.
The Licensing Authority may attach any other conditions which it thinks fit but if it is to permit the animal to be taken into another Licensing Authority area for more than 72 hours, it must consult that Licensing Authority.

Disqualifications and cancellations

Where a person is convicted of an offence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 or under:
  • Protection of Animals Act 1911-1964;
  • Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912-1964;
  • Pet Animals Act 1951;
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963;
  • Riding Establishments Act 1964-1970;
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.
The court may cancel any licence he may hold to keep a dangerous wild animal and disqualify, whether or not he is current holder, from holding such a licence for such a period as the Court thinks fit.
The cancellation or disqualification may be suspended by the court in the event of an appeal.

Power of entry

The Licensing Authority may authorise competent persons to enter premises either licensed under the Act or specified in an application for a licence, at all reasonable times, producing if required their authority, and the authorised officers may inspect these premises and an animal in them.
The penalty for wilfully obstructing or delaying an authorised officer is a maximum fine at level five.

Seizure of animals

If a Dangerous Wild Animal is being kept without the authority of a licence or in contravention of a licence condition, the Licensing Authority may seize the animal and retain it, destroy it or otherwise dispose of it. The Licensing Authority is not liable to compensation and may recover costs from the keeper of the animal at the time of this seizure.

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by the refusal to grant a dangerous wild animals licence, or by any condition subject to which the licence is issued, may appeal to the magistrates’ court within 21 days starting from the date the applicant is notified of the Council's decision.