Exotic, dangerous or wild animals

The keeping of certain species of wild animals is controlled by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

No person may keep any dangerous wild animal without first obtaining a licence from their local authority.

The animals for which a licence is required before they may be kept are listed in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 1984. See the downloads section for a list of wild animals that come under this act.

Dangerous Wild Animal Licences last for 2 years from the date of issue, they are not restricted to calendar years but must be renewed before the expiry date if the licence holder is to continue to keep the animals detailed on the licence.

Licences to keep exotic, dangerous or wild animals

Applications for a licence must be made to the Local Authority, and a licence may be issued providing the applicant is not disqualified or has been convicted under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

There is an application fee payable at the time an application is made. The current fee can be found on our Licence Fees page.

The applicant will also be required to pay the cost of inspections carried out by the Council’s authorised Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner.

Except in exceptional circumstances, the person making the application must be the person who owns and possesses or proposes to own and possess the animal to which the application applies.

Council’s duties

Before granting a licence the Licensing Inspector must be satisfied that:

  1. It is not contrary to the public interest to do so on the grounds of safety, nuisance or other grounds.
  2. The applicant is a suitable person to hold a licence to keep the animals listed on the application.
  3. The animal(s) will be kept in accommodation that prevents its escape and is suitable in respect of construction, size, temperature, drainage and cleanliness.
  4. That the animal(s) will be supplied with adequate and suitable food drink and bedding material and be visited at suitable intervals.
  5. Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the protection of the animal(s) in case of fire or other emergency.
  6. All reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
  7. The animal(s) accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise.
  8. Where the Council issues a licence, that licence will be subject to such conditions as the Council sees fit and in each case these conditions will specify that:

    a) only the person named on the licence shall be entitled to keep the animal.

    b) the animal shall only be kept on the premises named on the licence.

    c) the animal shall not be moved or may only be moved in accordance with conditions specified in the licence.

    d) the licensee must hold a current insurance policy, approved by the Council, which insures against liability for damage caused by the animal.

    e) only the species and number of animals listed on the licence may be kept.

    f) the licensee shall make a copy of the licence and its contents available to any other person listed on the licence as being able to look after the animal.
  9. The Council may at any time revoke or amend any licence condition apart from those covered by 8 a) to 8 f) above.

Your rights of appeal 

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any conditions to which the licence is subject, may appeal to the Magistrates Court and the Courts may give such direction regarding the licence and its conditions as it thinks proper.

Offences and penalties

Anybody found guilty of keeping an animal covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 without a licence to do so or anybody found guilty of failing to comply with any licence condition shall be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,000.

Any person found guilty of obstructing or delaying an Inspector or Authorised Veterinary Practitioner or Veterinary Surgeon shall be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,000.

Where a person keeps an animal without a licence or where a person fails to comply with a licence condition, Inspectors from the Council may seize the animal and may either retain it or have it destroyed or disposed of (to a zoo or elsewhere) without compensation to the owner.

Where the Council incurs any expense in seizing, retaining or disposing of an animal then the person who was the keeper of the animal shall be liable for those costs.

Further information

Copies of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and other legislation mentioned in this information sheet can be purchased from The Office of Public Sector Information. There is a link to their website in the downloads tab along with a link to the latest legislation.

A copy of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 can be inspected at the Council Offices where you may also obtain an application form and further help or advice.

Application forms can also be obtained by contacting the Licensing Team or by downloading a copy of the form from the download section.

Environmental Health Team

North Kesteven District Council

Kesteven Street



NG34 7EF

Tel: 01529 414155

Out of Hours Emergency: 01529 308308

Email:  EHTeam@n-kesteven.gov.uk