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Guidelines for Hiring Animals in the Audiovisual Industries

Amazing Animals, being the UK’s largest trainers and suppliers of animals to the audiovisual industries, has long been at the forefront of raising standards in animal training and exhibiting. Whenever their services are engaged they aim to provide the highest standards in animal welfare and service to their clients. All clients can be assured that the animals being supplied for the engagement have been carefully selected for this particular booking. The animals will be of a confident temperament and not easily stressed by the activity proposed. Where relevant, the animals will be humanely trained and used to human contact. Furthermore, the animals will be cared for by Amazing Animals staff to the highest standards possible.

However, in order for standards to be met and maintained when the animals are booked on an assignment certain criteria should be observed and understood by all clients. All bookings are undertaken by Amazing Animals based on the understanding that the client has read through, comprehends and agrees to abide by the below guidelines.

As from October 2018 all animals working in the audiovisual industries for commercial purposes must be licensed under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.  

When Working on Film Sets

  • All actions for animals should be discussed fully before the commencement of the assignment. Amazing Animals will inform the client of their animals’ limitations in relation to the booking.
  • Relevant script pages, storyboards and briefs should be sent over well in advance of the shoot. Any necessary NDAs will be signed by Amazing Animals.
  • Any props should be sent in advance of the shoot in order for the animal to familiarise themselves and trainers to best assess.
  • The client is to understand that trained animals are the best suited for film work. These animals are the least likely to be stressed by an unusual environment. Amazing Animals will only supply animals they believe will not be negatively affected by the assignment.
  • The client is to understand that animal welfare is likely to be compromised when booking “pet animals” or amateur animal handlers. Amazing Animals is strongly opposed to the use of non-professional animal handers or trainers.
  • An animal should be called as close to their specific call time as possible. Animals are working from the moment they loaded to the moment they are put back into their permanent living homes. Although they might not be performing the action on set when they are waiting around on set they are still working, as they are in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Ensure that everything is already in place for a take before the animal is called for their action. Often the best work is done during an animal’s first takes as they have a high interest in performing the behaviour early on.
  • Accept the fact that an animal’s attention is limited. Once their work is finished or when a trainer has said that the animal is losing interest, it is time to wrap the animal.
  • Where possible crews and sets should be kept down to a minimum when animals are present. This is to safeguard against stressing an animal and reducing distractions when the animal is under instruction.
  • Be mindful of the atmosphere an animal is entering into. This is particularly important when the animal is being rehearsed. All doors should be kept shut on set. Movement and noise should be kept down to a minimal.
  • When filming outside, everything is generally more difficult for the animal trainer. The animal is susceptible to more distractions and exposed to more hazards. For this reason more than one trainer/handler is usually required.
  • Animal Welfare is the priority of Amazing Animals when they are employing the services of their animal charges. Therefore, the company respects the authority and involvement of industry-experienced veterinarians. Amazing Animals advises the booking of a vet, whenever necessary, to help in the safeguarding of animals.


Licensing and Qualifications

Amazing Animals and Heythrop Zoological Gardens has long been at the forefront of Animal Welfare. When you work so closely with animals and require animals to be cooperative, it breeds a strong need to ensure your charges have the best lives possible. Therefore, it should be of little surprise that HZG not only seeks the best validation by the law and veterinary bodies, but that they have been actively involved in raising legal and educational standards in Animal Care and Welfare.

  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens is licensed under Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.  Licence Number: W/19/00088/AEXHIB.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens is licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens is the only UK private company of its kind to be Balai Approved. This means that they have to meet very high standards of inspection and submit monthly health reports on all zoo-type animals in their care. The directive is so demanding that those who are in possession of it are permitted to transport non-domestic species to zoos and other animal collections in the EU with little to no quarantine regulations.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens is a founding member of the UK’s largest and oldest self-regulatory trade body for animals in the audiovisual industry – ACTA (Animal Consultants and Trainers Association)
  • All those caring for the animals on assignments will have extensive experience working with trained animals (over 20 years in some cases) and/or be in possession of other animal training qualifications such as the QCF/NVQ levels 3-4 for Animal Training in the Audiovisual Industries/Education and Entertainment as well as other accredited qualifications in animal behaviour.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens were also involved in writing the respective NVQ /QCF qualifications in 2006/2010.
  • Their trainers were among the first to gain City and Guilds accredited qualifications in animal training. We were also amongst the first to have members of staff qualify as OCR A1 assessors, which enables us to provide an accredited qualification route through our company. We currently have the largest employed workforce of qualified animal trainers in the UK. One member of our staff won the City and Guild Medal of Excellence and had this accolade presented to her at Buckingham Palace by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. She also went on to win the City and Guilds Innovator of the Year. If you are interested please see details on our work experience page.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens were involved in the writing of standards for two Trailblazer Apprenticeships in Animal Care – Animal Care and Welfare Assistant (level 2) and Animal Trainer (level 4). They continue to be actively involved with several representatives from the Animal Care industry (including animal charities) in the delivery of these apprenticeships.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens is in possession of an Animal Transporter Authorisation Council Regulation (SC) No 1/2005 (Articles 10 and 11). This is a licence that covers them for the transportation of all animals.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens members of staff that transport any UK agricultural animals will have the relevant NPTC Level 2 Award Transport of Animals by Road (Short Journeys).
  • CITES appendix 1 animals are micro-chipped and have article 10 licences, which permits them to be used for commercial purposes.
  • Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens have public liability for £5m.



All of our livestock are under the veterinary care of Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital (www.chippingnortonvets.co.uk), one of the UK’s leading zoo-animal and exotic-pet practices, also caring for several other zoos and large educational and private collections of wildlife and exotic-pet species.  The Hospital is particularly well equipped with advanced diagnostics, including a CT scanner.  Many other veterinary practices refer complicated small-mammal, bird and reptile cases to Chipping Norton Vets.

Clinical Directors Peter Kettlewell and Martin Whitehead each have well over 20 years’ experience of zoo-animal work, and vet Nathalie Wissink-Argilaga is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a Specialist in zoo and wildlife medicine.  They have back-up from a large team of vets and veterinary nurses.  Some of the veterinary nurses have post-graduate qualifications in the nursing of wildlife and exotic-animal species.  

As their Hospital is just five miles from our premises, animals can be seen very quickly in the event that is needed. 



Amazing Animals is a completely self-supported enterprise. We receive no funding whatsoever outside of our commercial work. However, we engage in select charity work with the following organisations:

Wildlife Vets International

Kids Saving the Rainforest

Helen Douglas House – The world’s first children’s hospice

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Isis House

Comic Relief


Fauna and Flora International


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Heythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd t/a Amazing Animals has updated their Privacy Policy in  line with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2018. Your personal data is a top priority for Heythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd t/a Amazing Animals to remain safe and secure. To find out more please read their privacy policy.

Amazing Animals, Heythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd, Green Lane, Heythrop, Chipping Norton, Oxon, OX7 5TU