Publication - Advice and guidance

Zoos in Scotland: guidance

Published: 7 Jan 2019

Guidance on operating a zoo in Scotland.

Contents
Zoos in Scotland: guidance
Obtaining a dispensation

Obtaining a dispensation

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and Zoo Licensing Act 1981 Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (ZLA) should be consulted during all stages of the licensing process. The Standards of Modern Zoo Practice and the Zoos Expert Committee Handbook provide detailed guidance and should also be consulted.

Small zoos and those keeping species which are non-hazardous and non conservation-sensitive may be eligible for dispensations under the ZLA as amended.

There are three types of dispensations:

  • ‘Zoo Licensing Act Exemption’ dispensation [awarded under section 14(1)(a)]
  • ‘Reduced Periodical Inspections’ dispensation [awarded under section 14(1)(b)]
  • ‘Reduced Inspection Team’ dispensation [awarded under section (14)(2)]

Stage 1: initial consideration of proposal and potential for dispensation

  1. The applicant should inform their local authority that he/she is considering opening a new zoo and inform them of the facilities and species envisaged [see guidance on how to obtain a licence for a new zoo].
  2. On receiving notification, the local authority must decide whether the proposed establishment meets the definition of a zoo as specified by the ZLA [see appendix below: sections 1(2), 1(2A),1(2B)].
  3. If the proposed establishment does meet the definition of a zoo, the local authority should instruct the applicant to complete and submit a licence application form.
  4. Upon receipt of the completed licence application form, the local authority should consider whether the zoo is eligible for one of the three types of dispensation as detailed above.

Stage 2: application for dispensation

‘Zoo Licensing Act Exemption’ Dispensation [section 14(1)(a)]

Effect - if a zoo is awarded a Zoo Licensing Act Exemption Dispensation under section 14(1)(a), it is exempt from the requirements of the ZLA as amended and the Act will not apply to that zoo.

Criteria for approval - collections that are normally eligible for 14(1)(a) dispensations include:

  1. traditional deer parks
  2. collections, excluding those of wild mammals, of small, non-hazardous and non-conservation sensitive wild species not normally exceeding 120 specimens.

Application process - the key stages of applying for this dispensation are:

  1. The local authority applies to the APHA on the zoo’s behalf for a dispensation
  2. The application must contain:
  • a letter from the local authority stating why it supports a dispensation
  • a letter from a vet (not used by the zoo) confirming that the zoo appears to be run properly and the animal properly cared for
  • an up-to-date stock list
  • any other relevant information in support of the application

‘Reduced Inspections’ Dispensation [section 14(1)(b)]

Effect - if a zoo is awarded a ‘Reduced Inspections’ Dispensation under section 14(1)(b), it does not require periodical  inspections and/or special inspections; it requires only licence inspections, licence renewal inspections as required by section 6(1A)(a) and informal inspections on an annual basis during those years when no periodical inspections take place [see section 12 of the ZLA for requirements regarding informal inspections].

Criteria for approval - collections that are normally eligible for ‘Reduced Periodical Inspections’ dispensations are those comprising non-hazardous and non-conservation sensitive wild species, excluding wild mammals, not normally exceeding 200 specimens.

Application process - the key stages of applying for this dispensation are:

  1. The local authority applies to the APHA on the zoo’s behalf for a dispensation
  2. The application must contain:
  • a letter from the local authority stating why it supports a dispensation
  • a letter from a vet (not used by the zoo) confirming that the zoo appears to be run properly and the animals properly cared for
  • an up-to-date stock list
  • any other relevant information in support of the application

‘Reduced Inspection Team’ Dispensation [section 14(2)]

Effect - if a zoo is awarded a ‘Reduced Inspection Team’ dispensation under section 14(2), the zoo, due to its small size, is eligible for a reduced Scottish Ministers’ zoo inspection team for periodical inspections (the normal periodical inspection team consists of two Scottish Ministers' zoo inspectors).

Criteria for approval - the ‘Reduced Inspection Team’ dispensation normally applies to small collections not included in 14(1)(a) and 14(1)(b), where the hazardous and/or conservation-sensitive species component of the collection normally does not exceed 50 specimens.

Application process - the key stages of applying for this dispensation are:

  1. The zoo licence applicant / zoo operator / owner applies directly to the APHA for a dispensation 
  2. The application must contain:
  • a letter from the applicant requesting the dispensation
  • an up-to-date stock list
  • any other relevant information in support of the application
  1. The APHA will seek written confirmation from the local authority that it supports the request for a ‘Reduced Inspection Team’ dispensation

Stage 3: Assessment of dispensation applications

  1. Each dispensation application will be sent by e-mail to a panel comprising all the Scottish Ministers’ Zoo Inspectors. It will be assessed by the panel amd a recommendation for either approved or rejection made, a process that normally takes around two to three weeks. The APHA will inform the local authority/zoo operator as required if the assessment process is going to take longer.
  2. APHA will forward the recommendation and relevant information to the SG for consideration. If the dispensation application is approved, the SG will then issue copies of the dispensation to the local authority. A dispensation is normally issued to the council with a request that this is copied (with a certificate) to the relevant officials at the zoo. In some cases, it may be issued directly to the zoo operator if this has been agreed beforehand with the local authority but all correspondence will be copied to the local authority for information.
  3. If the dispensation is refused, the SG will write to the local authority and the zoo licence applicant/zoo operator/zoo owner providing reasons why the dispensation is not suitable. The SG may, following the advice of the Scottish Ministers’ Zoo Inspectors, direct that a different type of dispensation is more suitable for the zoo.    
  4. If a ‘Zoo Licensing Act Exemption’ or ‘Reduced Inspections’ dispensation is to be granted, the SG will issue the dispensation  to the local authority which should then issue a copy to the zoo.
  5. If a ‘Reduced Inspection Team’ dispensation is to be granted, following discussion with the local authority, the SG will issue the dispensation to the applicant and will also send a copy to the local authority.

Inspection regimes required for zoos having different types of dispensations and no dispensation

The table below illustrates the schedule of inspections required for zoos holding different types of dispensation and no dispensation from the ZLA.

Dispensation type

Relevant section of ZLA

Types of inspections required by each type of zoo

‘Zoo Licensing Act Exemption’ Dispensation

14(1)(a)

 

No inspections are required under the ZLA since the zoo is entirely exempted from the Act. However, the LA may keep a check on the zoo through inspections required under other legislation such as the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

‘Reduced Inspections’ Dispensation

14(1)(b)

 

Zoos holding a 14(1)(b) dispensation are not required to undergo periodical inspections and/or special inspections. However, zoos must undergo licence inspections, informal inspections and licence renewal inspections as required by section 6(1A)(a).

‘Reduced Inspection Team’ Dispensation

14(2)

 

Zoos holding a 14(2) dispensation must undergo the full schedule of inspections as set out in the ZLA including licence inspections, interim periodical inspections, licence renewal periodical inspections and informal inspections as well as special inspections should the LA deem this necessary.

Full licence – no dispensation held

n/a

Zoos holding a full licence must undergo the full schedule of inspections as set out in the ZLA including licence inspections, interim periodical inspections, licence renewal periodical inspections and informal inspections as well as special inspections should the LA deem this necessary.

Monitoring of zoos

Where a dispensation is given, zoo operators should inform their local authority if they plan to make any changes that may affect that dispensation status.

The local authority should monitor the premises and the animals and should check for anything that may affect the dispensation status. Although where a 14(1)(a) direction is issued the local authority has no powers under the ZLA to undertake a zoo inspection, they can enter the zoo by means of inspections carried out under other legislation, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Local authorities are also advised to review the dispensation and the “exempt” status periodically; this may be by writing to the zoo operator.

If the nature of the zoo changes through expansion of the collection and/or the acquisition of hazardous species, the local authority are required to notify the APHA with any information they have that might indicate the dispensation is no longer appropriate. APHA will conusult the Scottish Ministers' Zoo Inspectors and forward a recommendation to the SG for consideration.

Section 14(3) of the ZLA gives the SG the power to revoke or vary any of the above dispensations following consultation with the local authority and Scottish Ministers’ Zoo Inspectors.