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Exhibition of Wildlife

Exhibition of wildlife in Florida requires a license. Exhibition of wildlife is defined as public display of an animal with or without charge. Taking personal pets into a public place is considered exhibition of wildlife. Both individuals and commercial entities who wish to exhibit wildlife in Florida must obtain a license before exhibiting any wildlife. Not all exhibition of wildlife is commercial in nature, but the activity of exhibition itself requires a license, regardless of number of animals being exhibited or frequency of exhibition.

The type of license required for exhibition depends on the type of wildlife that is being exhibited. To determine which license type is appropriate for your situation, please return to the main Captive Wildlife webpage and read about the different types of wildlife under the Categories of Wildlife section (or use the links under each license type below). Once you have determined the type of wildlife you plan to exhibit, you can download the appropriate application below for exhibition of that type of wildlife.

License Options

License to Possess Class I and/or Class II Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESA)

License Information

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Cost: $150 per year
  • Activities covered: exhibition or sale of Class I or Class II wildlife (1-25 animals)
  • Private or Commercial: Commercial
  • Age requirement: 18

ESA Application Materials

Submit application with payment by mail to P.O. Box 6150, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6150.

Additional Information

  • To possess Class I or Class II wildlife, requirements related to experience documentation, facility, and caging must be met (see bottom of page).
  • Anyone in possession of Class I wildlife must possess guaranteed financial responsibility in one of the following forms: $10,000 bond, $10,000 paid to FWC in cash or check, $10,000 irrevocable letter of credit, or comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million general aggregate.
  • Anyone in possession of Class I mammals must obtain and maintain a USDA license.
  • In order to possess Class I species, the applicant must demonstrate consistent and sustained commercial activity.

License to Possess Class I and/or Class II Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESB)

License Information

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Cost: $250 per year
  • Activities covered: exhibition or sale of Class I or Class II wildlife (26 or more animals)
  • Private or Commercial: Commercial
  • Age requirement: 18

ESB Application Materials

Submit application with payment by mail to P.O. Box 6150, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6150.

Additional Information

  • To possess Class I or Class II wildlife, requirements related to experience documentation, facility, and caging must be met (see bottom of page).
  • Anyone in possession of Class I wildlife must possess guaranteed financial responsibility in one of the following forms: $10,000 bond, $10,000 paid to FWC in cash or check, irrevocable letter of credit, or comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million general aggregate.
  • Anyone in possession of Class I mammals must obtain and maintain a USDA license.
  • In order to possess Class I species, the applicant must demonstrate consistent and sustained commercial activity.

License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESC)

License Information

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Cost: $50 per year
  • Activities covered: exhibition or sale of Class III wildlife
  • Private or Commercial: Both
  • Age requirement: 16

ESC Application Materials

Submit application with payment by mail to P.O. Box 6150, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6150.

Additional Information

  • Anyone wishing to bring their Class III pet out in public must obtain this license (ESC) and does not need to obtain a Class III Personal Pet No-Cost Permit (PPNC).
  • To possess capuchin, spider, or woolly monkeys, requirements related to experience documentation and caging must be met (see bottom of page).
  • Many Class III bird species are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to possess. Anyone with migratory birds in their Class III inventory should provide a copy of their USFWS migratory bird permit or official exemption letter with their ESC license application.
  • Some turtle species have possession limits. No person shall possess more than two individual turtles of the following species: Escambia map turtles (Graptemys ernsti), diamond-backed terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), box turtles (Terrapene carolina), or loggerhead musk turtles (Sternotherus minor).

License to Possess or Exhibit Venomous Reptiles and/or Reptiles of Concern (VRC)

License Information

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Cost: $100 per year
  • Activities covered: possession and exhibition of venomous reptiles
  • Private or Commercial: Both
  • Age requirement: 18

VRC Application Materials

Submit application with payment by mail to P.O. Box 6150, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6150.

Additional Information

  • To possess venomous reptiles, requirements related to experience documentation, facility, and caging must be met (see bottom of page).
  • Anyone wishing to exhibit venomous reptiles must obtain and maintain a valid performance bond payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the sum of $10,000.

Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit (CSP)

Exhibition of Conditional or Prohibited species requires a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit and is limited to exhibition by public exhibitors providing educational exhibits. Permits are issued through the Wildlife Impact Management Section. Conditional or Prohibited species are not authorized for possession under a captive wildlife license.

Scientific Collecting Permit (SCP)

Possession of species listed as Threatened or Endangered in Florida requires a Scientific Collecting Permit. Florida Threatened or Endangered species are not authorized for possession under a captive wildlife license.

Provisions related to licensing for exhibition as described on this page do not apply to any municipal, county, state, or other publicly owned wildlife exhibit or any traveling zoo, circus, or exhibit licensed under chapter 205.

Additional Requirements for Class I, Class II, venomous reptiles, and capuchin, spider, and woolly monkeys

  • Anyone wishing to possess the above species must document 1000 hours of experience working with the species they would like to possess or other species in same biological family and Class of wildlife. The experience must span at least one calendar year. The experience documentation must show 1000 hours of practical experience in feeding, handling, care, and husbandry of animals in the same biological family and Class of the animal(s) being requested. Anyone wishing to document their experience hours may use this sample log or any other format (excel sheet, word document, etc.) as long as the description of experience is detailed and the hours are countable, totaling at least 1000 hours.
    • Experience documentation must be submitted per biological family of wildlife requested, except cougars and cheetahs (which are regulated separately on the genus level), crocodilians (which are regulated on the biological order level) and ratites (which are regulated on the biological sub-order level).
  • Anyone wishing to possess the above species must obtain two letters of reference regarding their experience as described above. One letter must be from a Florida license holder for the wildlife being applied for (preferably the license holder overseeing the experience) or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution, including veterinarians. Both letters must be from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the documented experience and must reference such experience in their letter.

Anyone wishing to possess the above wildlife must pass a caging inspection before a license will be issued. More information regarding specific caging requirements is on our Rules and Regulations page.

  • Class I species must be housed on properties which are at least 5 acres (see next tab for exceptions)
  • Class II species must be housed on properties which are at least 2.5 acres (see next tab for exceptions).
  • Class I and Class II species must be housed on properties which are either owned or leased by the applicant (see next tab for exceptions).
  • Facilities housing Class I or Class II species must contain a “buffer zone” of at least 35 feet between caged wildlife and the facility property line.
  • Facilities housing Class I wildlife must be bound by a fence which is at least 8 feet high (see next tab for exceptions).
  • Facilities housing Class II wildlife must be bound by a fence which is at least 8 feet high, or 6 feet high with a 2-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang (see next tab for exceptions).

The following Class I & Class II wildlife is exempt from the facility requirements related to acreage, ownership/lease of the property, buffer zones, and perimeter fencing:

  • Class I or Class II carnivores until they reach 25 pounds or 6 months of age, whichever comes first
  • Class I or Class II primates until they reach 12 months of age
  • Crocodilians 4 feet in length or less
  • Cats: ocelots, servals, caracals, bobcats, African golden cats, Temminck’s golden cats, and fishing cats
  • Non-human primates: uakaris, sakis, and guenons (except patas monkeys, De Brazza’s monkeys, blue monkeys, Preuss’s monkeys, or any other member of Cercopithecus which exceeds the normal adult weight of 14 pounds on average for the species)

Any Class I or Class II wildlife exempt from meeting the facility requirements still must meet the following:

  • Class I wildlife shall not be possessed in any multi-unit dwellings or on any premises consisting of less than one quarter acre of land area.
  • Class II wildlife shall not be possessed in multi-unit dwellings unless the dwelling in which they are housed is equipped with private entrance, exit and yard area.
  • A fence sufficient to deter entry by the public, which shall be a minimum of five (5) feet in height, shall be present around the premises wherein Class I or Class II animals are housed or exercised outdoors.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Captive Wildlife Office.

Phone: (850) 488-6253
Email: CWApps@myFWC.com
Mail: Captive Wildlife Office, 620 S Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399