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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. 

You can find the list of animals for which a licence is required on the website.

New Legislation

The Animal Welfare (Primate Licences) (England) Regulations 2023 have been signed into law and will come into force from 6 April 2026.

The legislation brings in a licensing scheme, setting strict rules to ensure that only private keepers who can provide zoo-level welfare standards will be able to keep primates.

From 6 April 2026, it will be an offence for anyone to keep a primate without a relevant licence. Guidance on the regulations will be published in due course.

Who needs a Licence

You need a licence if you plan to keep any animals listed in the Schedule attached to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

Businesses who are operating under the authority of a zoo, circus or pet shop licence are excluded from the licensing requirements.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 is a Schedule of all animals which require a DWA licence.

Certain Hybrid or cross-bred animals may need a licence, depending on how far removed the animal is from its wild ancestor. If you are unsure, please contact our licensing team at 

View list of Dangerous Wild Animals 1976 (

Applying for a Licence

All applicants must be over the age of 18. They must not be excluded from Keeping a Dangerous Wild Animal under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

An applicant must show a specialist knowledge in the species they wish to keep, with a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. They must have a clear understanding of the risks involved in caring for an animal listed on the DWA schedule.

It is recommended you contact our Licensing Team via email ( to discuss submitting your proposed plans before an official application is made. 

To apply, please fill in our Dangerous Wild Animal online application form. We aim to process all applications within 10 weeks.

New applicants will need to apply for a licence at least 10 weeks before they plan to operate. Please note that if you are applying for a licence for the first time, you will be refused a licence if you cannot meet the required minimum prescribed standards.

Existing licence holders will need to apply to renew their licences at least 10 weeks before the expiry date of their existing licence in order to ensure continuity of cover.

Please email details to 

We must have recieved the following before your application can be considered:

  • A valid application form
  • Fee
  • Risk Assessment
  • Floor Plan
  • Insurance

Once the above is received an inspection will be organised.

Please note: if you are applying for a licence for the first time, you will be refused a licence if you cannot meet the required minimum prescribed standards.


It costs £195 to apply for or renew a Dangerous Wild Animals Licence. This cost does not include additional vets charges which is required for both new and renewal inspections. 

No licence will be granted unless there has been a veterinary inspection. You will need to pay the cost of all inspections carried out by our authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner, all payments are to be made prior to the grant of a licence.

Tacit approval will not apply to this type of licence. This is because it is in the public interest that Fenland District Council must process your application before it can be granted. 

After you've applied for a Licence

Once we've recieved your application, it will be checked by our Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector. They will be in touch with you to discuss your application and will liaise with our authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner and yourself to arrange a suitable time to carry out your inspection. 

All premises are inspected prior to a licence being granted. The inspector will consider if:

  • granting a licence is not contrary to the public interest to do so on the grounds of safety, nuisance or other grounds;
  • the applicant is a suitable person to keep the animals concerned; 
  • the applicant has strong knowledge of the species and the species welfare needs and requirements
  • the animal(s) will be kept in accommodation that prevents its escape and is suitable in respect of construction, size, temperature, drainage and cleanliness;
  • the animal(s) will be supplied with adequate and suitable food, drink and bedding material and be visited at suitable intervals
  • appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the protection of the animal(s) in case of fire or other emergency;
  • all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases
  • the animal(s) accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise.

Inspection of the premises

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be checking the applicant has the following:

  • a specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare (including the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment)
  • an understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal

The premises itself will also be assessed against recognised standards relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

If a Licence is granted

If an inspection is successful and all outstanding costs have been received, a licence alongside a set of conditions will be granted. A licence is granted for 2 years. 

Where a licence is issued, it will be subject to conditions which will specify that:

  • only the person named on the licence shall be entitled to keep the animal;
  • the animal shall only be kept on the premises named on the licence;
  • the animal shall not be moved or may only be moved in accordance with conditions specified in the licence;
  • the licensee must hold a current insurance policy, approved by us, which insures against liability for damage caused by the animal;
  • only the species and number of animals listed on the licence may be kept;
  • 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; 
  • we may at any time revoke or amend any licence condition, apart from those covered in the list above.

Alongside the above conditions, the council will include any other conditions considered necessary. 

If your application is refused

You should firstly speak to the Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector  to discuss why you have not been successful and what would be required before a licence would be granted.

You can appeal either against a refusal of licence, or of any conditions attached to it. You need to appeal to a Magistrates' Court.


A number of offences and penalties apply.

If you are found guilty of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence, or fail to comply with any licence conditions, you could be fined up to £2,000.

If you are found guilty of obstructing or delaying an inspector, authorised veterinary practitioner or surgeon, you could be fined up to £2,000.

If you keep a dangerous wild animal without a licence, or if you fail to comply with a licence condition, we may seize the animal from you and either have it destroyed or disposed of (to a zoo or elsewhere) without compensating you. If we incur any costs doing this then you will be liable to pay.

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