A white tiger in a zoo enclosure

Uk Zoos: Take Action


Born Free believes the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 requires immediate revision and improvement, specifically to strengthen the conservation and financial criteria against which zoos are assessed.

Three meerkats stand behind each other, looking over each other's headsWith the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill being dropped by the UK government, we are calling for the government to fulfil its commitments within DEFRA’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare so that zoo legislation and accompanying standards ensure more stringent and meaningful conservation criteria are required of zoos. Such criteria, which all zoos should be required to meet, must be transparent, meaningful, measurable and in the public domain.

The majority of species held by UK zoos are not threatened with extinction, financial contributions to in situ conservation are a small fraction of what zoos are spending on new exhibits and the conservation measures required of zoos lack the criteria to ensure real conservation benefits.

It is also clear that zoos were financially unprepared for long-term closure as experienced during COVID-19. The creation of a Zoo Insurance Bond is urgently needed to ensure the care and welfare of animals at a zoo which is forced to close, and, where closed permanently, their humane dispersal to other appropriate facilities during what could be a protracted winding-up period;

Below you will find a number of actions you can take to help resolve the situation.

How You Can Help


Use the link below to write to your MP.

Politely but firmly ask them to support revision and improvement of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, particularly with regards to the conservation requirements of zoos. Point out that:

  • Current conservation requirements of zoos are vague and subjective
  • Current conservation requirements under the Zoo Licensing Act can be fulfilled by zoos with no actual benefits to species conservation in the wild
  • Clear, transparent, meaningful and measurable conservation, education, research and animal welfare criteria that zoos must meet in order to fulfil their licence requirements are urgently needed
  • If you have read any of Born Free’s reports on this issue, make sure to include the title(s) within your letter in order to provide your MP with further reference materials



Born Free is working to ensure members of the public are able to make informed decisions when considering whether to visit a zoo. If you agree, please share our campaign with your family and friends using the buttons above on the right.


Donate today and help Born Free in its campaign against keeping wild animals in captivity.


Publications & Further Reading

Born Free has published a number of reports relating to UK Zoo legislation and reform.

Please click on the links below to read more.
A polar bear paces behind bars in an indoor enclosure

Born to Roam: The Suffering of Polar Bears in Zoos

Born Free's new report looks at the welfare concerns of polar bears kept in zoos, the true risks facing polar bears as a species, and what action needs to be taken to protect this magnificent species.