A local group's bid to officially run a mini wildlife zoo in Cookham is set to be heard before magistrates after the council refused to grant them a licence.

Wildway Wildlife Mini Zoo opened its doors to the public on May 13, 2023, boasting a family-friendly attraction and dozens of animals on its site at Lowermount Farm in Cookham near Maidenhead.

Animals in the zoo's care include ring-tailed lemurs, Polecat-ferret, Brazilian cavy and Caracals - and zoo director Connor Clegg hoped to create an educational and entertaining place for children to learn about the animals.

In early December 2023, plans to permanently keep the zoo at its site for a further two years went into the council.

They read: "The current use within the application site is poor quality agricultural land. This proposal seeks temporary Planning Consent to operate a mini zoo which falls under a sui generic use."

However, just weeks later, the zoo revealed it had been refused a licence based on a lack of planning permission. 

A GoFundMe page titled 'Help Save Cookham Zoo' was launched with fears that the animals could be taken out of Wildway Wildlife's care.

They wrote: "Sadly we are now calling for all the support we can get as we have had our revenue cut off, however, we still have 72 lives in our hands who depend on us to feed and care for them.

"We need to raise vital funds to keep the heating on, to feed the animals and to continue the necessary veterinary care for the zoo’s inhabitants."

To date, the fundraiser has raised £2,409 to support the zoo.

In a statement from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, they revealed that the zoo had been operating without a license while council officers had been seeking to work with the zoo around regularising their position.

Since the Council refused the zoo a licence in December, Wildway Wildlife has appealed the decision.

Now a Royal Borough spokesperson has provided an update on the situation, writing: “The application for the zoo licence was primarily refused as no planning permission had been granted. Planning permission is legally required for the establishment or continuous use of a zoo, it is not possible to grant a zoo licence to a premises without planning permission in place.

“The council is currently considering the zoo’s planning application in line with planning policy and a decision will be made in due course. In the meantime, the zoo has appealed the decision to refuse a zoo licence. The final hearing is scheduled before magistrates on June 11, 2024. The animals remain under the care of the zoo.”

Wildway Wildlife Mini Zoo has been contacted for further comment.