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Dangerous wild animals

You must hold a licence from us if you wish to keep a dangerous wild animal (other than at a licensed zoo or specialist pet shop, a circus or a scientific institution), under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

The wild animals covered by the Act require extremely specialised care and accommodation, and the licensing process ensures that both the animal's welfare and the safety of the keeper and the wider public will be protected.

Animals for which a licence is required include marsupials, primates, armadillos, wolves, big cats, badgers, otters, bears, seals, aardvark, elephants, ungulates (such as wild horses, zebra, giraffe, rhinos, hippos, moose, camels, bison and boar), cassowaries, ostrich, crocodiles, alligators, certain lizards, and venomous snakes, spiders and scorpions.

Applying for a licence

To apply for a licence to keep a dangerous wild animal, please complete and submit the application below.

You must have been granted a licence identifying the species you intend to keep, before you obtain the corresponding animals. Reputable suppliers will check the licence before releasing the animals to you. Applications may take up to eight weeks to process, so it is important that you factor this in when arranging for any shipping or quarantine of animals. You should also consider what measures will have to be taken to accommodate the animals if your application is refused.

On receipt of an application for a licence, we will arrange for the premises and animal accommodation to be inspected by a vet specialising in exotic animals (please note that the cost of this inspection will be recharged to the applicant, in addition to the application fee). The inspection will look at whether the premises are suitable for the keeping of the species, and the condition and suitability of the accommodation. We will also interview the applicant to ensure that they have the specialist knowledge, skills and equipment to care for the animal.

When we consider the application, we will be looking to ensure that:

  • The keeping of the animal will not lead to a risk to public safety, nuisance, or otherwise not be in the public interest
  • The applicant is a suitable person to hold a licence, by reason of experience, skills, knowledge or qualifications
  • Animals kept under the licence will be kept at all times in accommodation from which they cannot escape, and which is suitable in terms of construction, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness for the number of animals proposed to be kept
  • The accommodation provides sufficient scope for the animal to exercise
  • Animals will be supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, and be visited at suitable intervals
  • Appropriate steps have been taken to protect the animals in the case of fire or other emergency
  • All reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases
  • Licence-holders are (or will be) the legal owners and keepers of the animals, and any relevant legal requirements (for example, CITES permits for the import of endangered species) have been satisfied.

Application form

 Dangerous wild animal application form (PDF 27KB)

Details of current application fees can be found on our licensing fees and charges page.

Maintaining a licence

Licences will usually be granted for a period of two years. Renewal applications can be made prior to the expiry of the licence. A further inspection of the premises will be carried out on each renewal application.

We will issue your licence subject to a number of conditions, in respect of the care and security of the animal. These will be tailored depending on the species your licence allows you to keep. We will usually discuss a set of proposed conditions with you during the inspection, to give you time to make any adjustments necessary before obtaining the animals. Further conditions may be added to your licence while it is in force, although again these will be discussed with you first.

Council officers and our authorised vet may carry out periodic inspections of premises where wild animals are being kept, to ensure that standards are being maintained and that the licence conditions are being adhered to.

Should you wish to take an animal kept under a licence to premises in another area for more than 72 hours (for example, to exhibit the animal at a specialist event, or to participate in a breeding programme), you will need our permission for this. A written request with full details should be sent to us. We will consult the local council for the area you wish to take the animal to, and if agreed, we will vary your licence to allow you to transport the animal.

If a licence-holder is convicted of an animal welfare offence, the court may decide to cancel the licence as part of the sentence. Courts may also disqualify any person from keeping wild animals in the future.

Right of appeal

If your application is refused, you may appeal against the decision. Licence-holders may also appeal against a decision to attach a particular condition to their licence. In all cases, appeals must be lodged in a magistrates' court.

Complaints

We will investigate any complaints about wild animals being kept without a licence, or keepers acting in breach of their licence. Please contact us using the details below with your concerns.

More information

For more information on wild animal licences, please telephone us on 01442 228470 or email licensing@dacorum.gov.uk.