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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

  • By
  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

MEET THE RESIDENTS

Laugh and Learn With Your Family

Visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park residents take every opportunity to entertain visitors. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Prepare to fall in love with the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. You’ll never see the same scene if you visit the wildlife park one or 50 times . A personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, educational programs for all ages, and a picnic lunch together in the concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias can all be woven seamlessly into your visit.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari
Board the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour to meet the animals who roam on 165 acres.

If you’re a parent, you already know children grow up in a heartbeat. Savor those moments with your kids and reserve a day to visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Halifax, Pennsylvania. If your children are grown and you miss those carefree afternoons at the zoo, you too should plan a visit. The wildlife park  is reminiscent of an old-fashioned zoo I came to know in Northeastern Pennsylvania as a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the former Nay Aug Park Zoo operated on a much smaller scale, weekly visits to the petting zoo and main park building cultivated a love and respect for animals that has grown stronger over the years.

I’m so pleased the Tobias family chose to carry on the tradition of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park with affordable family engagement and hands-on learning. You can thank J.R. Tobias for his vision and diligence that has spanned more than 50 years. Although this wildlife park dates back to 1965 on a tract of land where J.R. Tobias was born and raised, numerous expansion and renovations have enabled the Tobias family to continue their father’s dream by enhancing the park’s offerings and highlighting a variety of wild and exotic animals. The most notable improvements have occurred in the last 15 years with several new additions: custom-designed, expanded habitats for the tigers and black bears, African lion and baboon facility,  custom-designed Reptile and Exotics’ facility, food service areas, relocated and expanded Safari Station, J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center, and the opening of a giraffe exhibit. Plans for additional exhibits are also in the works.

J.R. Tobias Family owners
Jan Tobias-Kieffer is one of J.R. Tobias’ seven children who have chosen to carry on the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park tradition. Jan is shown inside the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. 

J.R.’s daughter, Jan Tobias-Kieffer, said the wildlife park was a hobby her father could fall back on in his retirement. J.R. Tobias died in 1996 but his wife, Pauline, still lives in the homestead and six of the couple’s seven children and a grandson own and manage the wildlife park. Immediately, upon your entry into the park, you’ll notice the special care given to all the animals. They’re highly-socialized creatures that are genuinely happy to mingle with park guests. 

“My father always had a fascination with animals.” ~Jan Tobias-Kieffer

 

 

 

Meet the animals in person as I did on Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, during my tour of the park. The park was at the top of my list of Harrisburg-Hershey attractions. I brought my life-long friend, Pennye Rosenfeld-Weinstein along to share in the fun. 

After dashing from my car to pick up our tickets at the Safari Station, we bought a large bag of popcorn to take with us to feed the animals we met on the safari. We made our way to the front of the line (yes, we cut in front of other visitors) so I could photograph Lenny, the Emu, classified as second-largest living bird by height and native to Australia.  Lenny was a mooch, to say the least. 

Exotic Animals Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lenny, the Emu, didn’t waste any time when he knew popcorn was awaiting him at the gate. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Be prepared to greet the animals up close and personal at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
Thousands of children each year meet and greet the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their interaction allows them to learn more about an animal’s lifestyle and feeding habits. Lenny the Emu is an example of the pleasure children derive from a visit to the wildlife park.
Lenny, the Emu
Lenny spends his days hanging around by the Safari Station while waiting for guests to share their snacks.

(Recommendation: Don’t tempt Lenny or any other animal with food other than what is sold at the Safari Station and intended for the animals. Inquire at the Safari Station Snack Shop.)

Watch this documentary and learn the history of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. The film was produced by Rutan Productions company and provided courtesy of Chip Rutan.

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
The fleet of safari cruisers are ready for the crowds that visit Lake Tobias every year. Adventure-seekers can opt in for the 45-minute safari tour by purchasing tickets at the welcome center.

Our personal tour guide stopped numerous times along the Safari trail to allow visitors an opportunity to snap photos and greet and feed the animals. A fleet of “chop-top” safari cruisers are available to accommodate visitors who arrive at the park each year. You’ll find the hours of operation and directions to the park here.

Allow ample time to visit each of the exhibits at the park. The African Lion, American Alligator, American Black Bear, Asian Water Buffalo, Bengal Tiger, Burmese Python, Capybara, De Brazza, Monkey, Dromedary Camel, East African Crowned Crane, Eland, European Fallow Deer, Gemsbok, Grant’s Zebra, Green Tree Python, Marmoset, North American Bison, Ostrich, Peacock, Red Kangaroo, Rhea, Suri Alpaca, Tamarins, Two-Toed Tree Sloth, and the Watusi are among the animals you’ll find throughout the park. Each tour guide is well-trained and educated with an abundance of knowledge about the animals roaming the 150-acre countryside. Ask questions and expand your knowledge.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Safari
Ah, they were waiting to greet us as the tour guide navigated the safari bus along the straight and narrow trail.
Llamas and Alpacas Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Don’t worry, “I won’t spit on you. I’m looking for attention.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Bison Buffalo
“We’re relaxing and not inclined to get up to greet you but thanks for stopping by today.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
“I wait for the corn treats. They’re my favorite.”

The Reptiles and Exotics Facility

Are you skittish about reptiles? The Reptiles and Exotics Facility is where you can work on your fear. If not, move on to the lizards, tortoises, tropical birds, lemurs, tamarins, and the sloth who was particularly active during my visit. Check the schedule for an educational demonstration that will round out a perfect day at the park.

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE FRIENDS I MADE AT THE PARK.

where to see a sloth?
When the sloth is active, you’ll see him make his way up and down the branches.
Two Toed Tree Sloth
“Thanks for hanging around today. It’s a pleasure to meet and entertain you.”
Giant Tortoise
The crowd had time to study the GIANT Tortoise.
American Alligator Photo Information
Professional handlers and educators run the educational demonstrations held throughout the day.

(RECOMMENDATION: Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables along the lake. You can purchase food at The Hub Refreshment Stand, the Grille & Grub and the Chill Zone in the center of the park or the new Safari Station snack shop or bring your own lunch.)

As the self-sustaining, family-owned Lake Tobias Wildlife Park continues to grow and attract more than 170,000 visitors each season, my readers should also be aware that this enduring and charming entity relies strictly on park revenue to feed the animals and support its educational and building programs. I know you’ll also feel the love and respect that emanates from each exhibit. As for J.R. Tobias’ children, who’ve never known a life without their animals, Jan told me she is grateful to be a part of her father’s calling.

She noted, “We always thought it (growing up in a park) was normal for us – peacocks yelling in your bedroom window, whereas our friends thought this was really cool. For us, it was an everyday thing,” Jan said.

 

 

 

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located at 760 Tobias Road, Halifax, Pa. For updated hours or other information, call 717-362-9126 Mon., to Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email info@laketobias.com.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

DISCLAIMER:

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

 

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A Guide to Staying Healthy on Vacation

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  • August 4, 2018

Admit it. There are times when you wish you could get away from it all by moving to your own private island. Well, some cruise passengers actually can at least for a day. Each of the following cruise lines below offer passengers a day of fun in the sun on their very own private island. For many cruisers, this stop is the highlight of the trip. After all, what could be better than sitting on a white-sand beach, drinking a pia colada and soaking in the rays without crowds?

“It’s a wonderful destination, we will come back next year for sure!”

All of these islands have pristine shores, swaying palm trees, aquamarine waters and lots of ocean-side adventure. There usually are fees for shore excursions and equipment rental. Every destination offers something a little different for cruise passengers.

View of buildings on the coast of tropical island San Andres y Providencia

Even at first glance, CocoCay looks like the quintessential Caribbean hideaway. There are wide stretches of beach in quiet coves, island huts in bright Caribbean pinks and blues, and a colorful straw market offering Bahamian crafts and goods.

Many of the island buildings look brand new and they are. In 2002, the company invested more than US$ 21 million to turn this 140-acre (0.5 km) slip of land into a destination their passengers would never forget. Nature trails wind through the isle, which is home to wild chickens, peacocks and occasional iguanas. Those seeking solitude will enjoy the hammocks that are hung under coconut trees in quiet locations.

English Harbour, Hurricane Hole

Sea lovers have plenty of activities to choose from. Hop on a jet ski (US $ 95 for 50 minutes) and speed across waters so clear that you can see orange starfish 20 feet below, or don a snorkel mask and explore life under the sea up close.

For a great view of the island, try your hand at parasailing (US $ 79 per hour). You’ll soar 200-400 feet in the air and maybe even take a cooling dip in the water before returning to the boat. Children will enjoy Caylana’s Castle Cove and SeaTrek Aqua Park (US$ 15 adults, $10 children). Its floating sand castle and aquatic trampolines are just the things for those who are young at heart.

A staff of 45 people lives on CocoCay, and it’s obvious they take pride in keeping the island’s natural beauty in top condition. Their pampering service makes the island experience so pleasurable that you won’t want to leave when dusk falls all too soon.

“Disney knows children, so it’s no wonder that they feel at home on Castaway Cay”

The cruise ship docks right at the island (other cruise ships use tender boats to ferry passengers back and forth), so youngsters can head right down the ship’s ramp and out to explore Castaway Cay. There is a beach just for families, and Scuttle’s Cove is a safe and fun club for children. Parents need some time on their own, so there is Serenity Bay, a secluded beach for adults. For a little pampering, have a relaxing massage in the open-air cabanas at the seaside spa.

Street in Key West

Game for a little exploration? Then grab a bike (child seats are available for little ones) and hit the trails (US$ 6 per hour). This is, after all, a secluded island getaway, and there are miles of empty shoreline and tropical forest to explore.

If you prefer the water, check out the Walking and Kayak Nature Adventure ($60). Participants walk with a guide through the island’s lush fauna and kayak through an ecologically sensitive mangrove environment. If paddling wears you out, just jump in for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear island waters.

Teens can get into their own adventure on The Wild Side (US$ 35), an excursion that includes snorkeling, biking and kayaking. Families who want to adventure together can try the Seahorse Catamaran Snorkel Adventure (US$ 49 adults, US$ 29 children). This easy 45-minute sail takes you out to calm waters and unspoiled coral reefs. Even younger children will enjoy floating in the turquoise Caribbean Sea with schools of colored fish.

View of the Caribbean Sea

Visitors to the tiny islet of Motu Mahana (Polynesian for sunlit island) are greeted with the sounds of Polynesia. Les Gauguines, an eight-woman song and dance troupe, perform beguiling love songs in their Polynesian tongue while guests enjoy a scrumptious feast under the shade of thatched huts. After lunch, guests can relax in the sea or wade for yards in the shallow waters while waiters wearing bathing suits offer tropical drinks to those in need of refreshment. Try out the complimentary water sports like kayaking or snorkeling. For a different experience, board a motorized outrigger canoe and head to the beautiful island lagoon of Taha’a. Taha’a is known for two things: producing vanilla and black pearls.

Guests can take a four-wheel drive tour into the hills to tour the vanilla plantations (US$ 65) or view French Polynesia’s rare jewel, the black pearl, at the Motu Pearl Farm (US$ 64). From there, head to the lagoon for some quality time with the region’s underwater fauna. There is even a small lagoonarium where rays, turtles, sharks and fish are enclosed in four different pools.

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