The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 places responsibility for the inspection and licensing of zoos with local authorities. The Act provides local authorities with all the powers they require to ensure that zoos operate to standards consistent with the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. On behalf of the Secretary of State, DEFRA takes responsibility for ensuring these standards are set and improved on where necessary.
The Secretary of State has a list of inspectors which he can call on to inspect zoos' compliance with the standards; the list includes veterinary practitioners and persons who are competent to inspect animals in zoos, advise on their welfare and advise on general zoo management issues.
Ministers have written to all local authorities reminding them of their licensing responsibilities, and DEFRA ensures biennial training seminars for zoos, local authorities and zoo inspectors are held to make them aware of their responsibilities. DEFRA holds a zoos database and reminds local authorities annually about forthcoming zoo inspections.