Dangerous wild animals

Guidance on the requirements a person must undertake if they wish to keep a dangerous wild animal.


The Dangerous Wild Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 2004  came into effect on 28 December 2006 to regulate the keeping of dangerous wild animals (the species included are identified in the accompanying schedule of the legislation) by private individuals. Up until this time there has been no legal provision for regulating the keeping of these animals.

The Dangerous Wild Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 aims to address this gap in the law by ensuring individuals that keep these animals do so in a manner which protects public safety and safeguards the welfare of the animals. 


Anyone wishing to acquire a dangerous wild animal must apply for a licence prior to taking ownership of the animal. 

More than one dangerous wild animal can be held under the authority of a licence.This legislation gives the Department powers of inspection, and powers to seize any animal being kept on premises without a licence or that is being kept in breach of the licence conditions.

Keepers of dangerous wild animals will be subject to annual inspections (in the first instance this will be undertaken by a DAERA appointed vet).

Subsequent inspections may be carried out by a nominated DAERA approved vet. Zoos, pet shops and circuses are exempt from the provisions of the Order as these premises are subject to separate licensing requirements.

Selling or gifting dangerous wild animals to an unlicensed person(s) is also an offence

Further information can be found by contacting the NIEA wildlife team.


Guidance documents can be found in the publications section of this website. The guidance documents cover the following animals:

  • Bison or American Buffalo
  • Camelids
  • Crocodillians
  • Lemurs
  • Leopards, Puma and Jaguars
  • Lions and Tigers
  • Lynx, Wildcats and Bobcats
  • Ocelots, Leopard Cats and Bengal Cats
  • Old world monkeys
  • Ostrich and Emus
  • Procyonids: Raccoons, Coatis and Kinkajou
  • Small primates: Tamarins, Capuchins and Squirrel Monkeys
  • Tapir
  • Venomous snakes and lizards
  • Venomous spiders and scorpions
  • Wolves and wolf-dog hybrids
  • Zebra



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