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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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The New York Times 15th Anniversary Travel Show

  • By
  • February 2, 2018

The New York Times 2018 Travel Show coverage

The New York Times Travel Show is the largest travel industry trade show in North America. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, journalist, travel writer, and photographer. 

The New York Times Travel Show 

 

The New York Times 15th Anniversary Travel Show drew a record number of participants to the Jakob Javits Center during its annual event Jan. 26 – 28, 2018.

 

Travel show organizers reported a new record of 32,398—the highest attendance in the show’s history. That number included 10,268 travel trade, 22,130 consumer attendees, and participating exhibitors, and another milestone with 600 companies representing more than 176 countries.

The New York Times Travel Show is the largest and longest-running trade and consumer travel show in North America. In addition to more than 500 exhibitors from all seven continents, visitors learn more about worldwide travel at the Travel Industry Conference and from consumer seminars and interactive exhibitions.

 

The New York Times Travel Show coverage
The crowd was equally as diverse as the countries that participated.

 “Each year, more and more travel professionals and enthusiasts attend The New York Times Travel Show and for good reason,” says Maggie Kiselick, vice president of advertising and managing director, The New York Times Magazine. “People rely on the Show to provide both exceptional travel offerings and helpful information to help them plan their trips to see the world. We look forward to hosting even more people at 2019’s show.”

Turkish Airlines was the presenting sponsor of The New York Times 15th Anniversary Travel Show. The airline offers passengers a fleet of 329 aircraft that fly to 300 worldwide destinations and 120 countries.

The New York Times Travel Show coverage
A chef and flight attendant were among the Turkish Airlines’ representatives who welcomed visitors to their booth.

2018 Show Highlights 

Opening Day: Keynote Address and Conferences

 

Although I did not attend Trade Day, the first day of the travel show on Jan. 26, the day’s events were reserved exclusively for travel industry professionals and members of the media. Among the events offered on Friday were the Keynote Address by veteran travel journalist and editor James Shillinglaw, in conversation with: CEO of Travel Leaders Group Ninan Chacko; Jennifer Tombaugh, President, Tauck; Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group; Andrew Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line; and Guy Young, Global Brand Engagement Officer, The Travel Corporation; and 20 Focus Conferences’ panels that covered the latest products, services, destination information and trends from travel industry experts.

The second and third days were open to all attendees and featured various cultural presentations and performances, food demonstrations, and one-on-one conversations with travel experts, influencers and celebrities including travel expert Pauline Frommer, fashion designer Zac Posen and musical artist Action Bronson. The 2018 show also highlighted new seminar topics such as: “Seeing Mexico City and Barcelona Through Their Burgeoning Art Scenes,” with art expert Maria Brito;  “The Best Travel Gadgets of 2018,” a conversation with experts of New York Times’s product review website Wirecutter; and “Sustainable and Socially Conscious Travel” with New York Times travel and lifestyle writer Shivani Vora; among many others.

The LGBTQ Pavilion, curated by gay travel expert and ManAboutWorld editor-in-chief, Ed Salvato, debuted at this year’s show. If you stopped by the booth, you found information about the latest trends in LGBTQ-centric tourism and a showcase of LGBTQ travel experts from exhibitors including ManAboutWorld,  Out in the Vineyard, Oscar Wilde Tours, Shady Ladies Tours, R Family Vacations, Quiiky-Gay Tours in Italy, Outings & Adventures, Insider Voyagers and the Stonewall National Monument.

Culinary Travel

 

The New York Times 2018 Travel Show coverage

Okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style pancake, was one of the selections prepared on-site at the travel show. Representatives from a variety of destinations took some of the mystery out of cuisine from Japan and other countries. The Taste of the World Pavillion offered an opportunity to sample the authentic fare while learning more about world’s most popular flavors. Agents from Japan, for example, prepared “Okonomiyaki,” a savory pancake that typically contains flour and cabbage with add-ins that might also include meat and seafood.

 

GALLERY

Take a moment to view additional highlights from the travel show. Story continued below.

Family Travel 

 

The Family Travel Association sponsored the Family Travel Pavillion as a means to showcase family-friendly and yes, pet-friendly destinations. Key players in the family travel industry highlighted lodges, resorts and cruise lines, while families looking to integrate transportation and accommodations could also step inside a Mantis customized camper van.

More information about Mantis and other integrated camper vans can be found at taxaoutdoors.com.  

While the adults spoke to delegates at each of the show booths, children had time to unleash some energy in the Gaga Ball Pit and other activities hosted by Camp Cody. Fitter International, Inc. offered a “Fun Zone” so families could test their balance, strengthen and stretch their bodies.

 

The New York Times Travel Show wrap up
A customized “Mantis” camper-van allows families to travel in style. Vans can be tailored to meet individual needs ranging from the elaborate to basic functionality. 

Culture Comes to Life On Stage

 

A genuine Ninja performance from Ashura’s Ninja Show was presented by Japan. 

Why do cultural performances help tourism boards attract visitors?

They work hand in hand to enhance a traveler’s overall experience and they’re an important means to strengthen cultural heritage. Dancers from The Consulate General of Indonesia and Tai Chi martial arts’ experts from the Henan Province were among the other performers that took the stage at the travel show. Stop by again soon for extended coverage. 

Accolades

 

The New York Times presented awards to the following exhibitors.

Best in Show

Turkish Airlines

Best New Exhibitor

Hostelworld

Most Interactive

Korea Tourism Organization

The People’s Choice

Puerto Rico Tourism Company

Most Imaginative

Camp Cody

 


The New York Times Travel Show is organized by The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT), a global news organization founded in September 1851 in New York City. Its entities include The New York Times and NYTimes.com and related properties.


Stop by joanmatsuitravelwriter.com again soon for continued coverage of The New York Times 15th Anniversary Travel Show. 

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