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Dangerous wild animals

Date updated: 1/12/2022

A person who wishes to keep an animal listed in the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (as amended) 1976 must obtain a dangerous wild animals (DWA) licence from their local authority. 

The licence is issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (as amended) 1976. The legislation aims to ensure that when private individuals keep dangerous wild animals, they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public and safeguards the animals welfare. The act does not apply to a dangerous wild animal kept in a:

  • Zoo
  • Circus
  • Premises licensed as a pet shop
  • Place which is a designated establishment within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Apply for a licence

To apply for a licence to keep a wild animal you must contact your local authority. Under contract, the City of London animal welfare services team carry out inspections on behalf of local authorities across London and the Home Counties.

Eligibility and fees

Anyone who is over the age of 18 and not disqualified under this act from keeping a Dangerous Wild Animal can apply for a licence. The local authority sets the licence fee which must accompany the application and is set at an amount that the local authority considers covers the direct and indirect costs which it may incur as a result of dealing with the application.

After you have submitted your application

A vet must inspect the premises where the dangerous wild animal will be kept. The application can be approved, approved with conditions attached or refused. If the licence is granted then it is valid for two years from the issue date. 

Refused application, next step

If your application has been refused or you object to a condition attached to the licence you may appeal to the local magistrates court.

The licence will specify the following:

  • Species and the number of each species proposed to be kept under the authority of the licence
  • The premises where any animal concerned will normally be held

A local authority shall not grant a licence under this act unless it is satisfied that:

  • It is not contrary to the public interest on the grounds of safety, nuisance or otherwise to grant the licence
  • The applicant for the licence is a suitable person to hold a licence under this act
  • Any animal concerned will at all times be kept only under the authority of the licence
  • Any animal concerned is kept in a suitable enclosure in terms of construction, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation, drainage, cleanliness etc
  • Any animal concerned is supplied with adequate food, drink, bedding material and visited at suitable intervals
  • Appropriate contingency plans are in place to protect the animal, public and keeper in cases of fire or other emergencies
  • All reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases
  • While any animal concerned is at the premises where it will normally be held, its accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise