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Wildwood Park Nature Abounds

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  • March 22, 2019
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Joan Mead-Matsui Wildwood Park Nature Preserve

Wildwood Park Nature Abounds

Where City Life Stops and Conservation Begins

Dauphin County Park Host To Year-Round Learning

Chris Rebert shares his concerns about conversation.
Chris Rebert, Wildwood Park manager, celebrates the natural beauty of the park he manages on the outskirts of Harrisburg, PA. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, Travel Writer, Photographer, and Award-Winning Freelance Journalist.

On a chilly autumn day, Chris Rebert, Wildwood Park manager, was eager to introduce me to the array of wildlife that inhabits the park. As we walked along the path surrounding the Benjamin Olewine III Nature Center, Chris pointed to the waterfowl and other wildlife that find the park a safe haven.

Harrisburg offers residents and visitors a variety of parks and recreational opportunities.
The marsh is home to waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, and migratory birds. Depending on the time of day you visit, you might find the sun peeking through the tree-lined path.

Wildwood Park has a rather unique location along the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania where suburbia and urban sprawl meet. Yet, the tract of land that was set aside as a preserve on the outskirts of Harrisburg, PA, at 100 Wildwood Way, speaks of peace, solitude, conservation, and protection. While Chris shared the park’s history, the songbirds communicated as other fauna dashed across the path in search of food.

Wildwood Lake Surrounding Marsh area
Aquatic life in the marshes thrives as a result of the park management’s attention to conservation. Stroll along the trails and see how many waterfowl you can spot during your visit. 

Wildwood Park is a natural setting you won’t soon forget. Leave your worries behind and focus on nature’s healing power as you stroll under the canopy of mature trees. Visitors will find ample quality time to reap the rewards of taking time away from work, school, and electronics. Wildlife can be seen from all angles along the winding trails that run adjacent to the road around Wildwood Lake. The boardwalks that link trails add a contemporary touch to the surroundings.

Wildwood Park Nature Preserve Harrisburg PA
Visitors explore Wildwood Park, a four-season haven for waterfowl and other wildlife. Maps are available to help you navigate through the trails.

Don’t forget to bring your camera when you visit the park. Known as a bird watcher’s haven, seven well-maintained trails, ranging from one to 2.1 miles, are the perfect setting for photo opportunities. Be sure to include the lake in at least one of your photos. If you have more energy to spare, extend your hike and increase your chances to see more of the natural habitat by combining the trails.

Joan Mead-Matsui Wildwood Park Nature Preserve
Nature provides endless opportunities for travel writers who specialize in outdoor recreation. Read other stories by Joan Mead-Matsui, Award-Winning Freelance Journalist to learn more about her favorite hikes and trails. Photo by Chris Rebert

Numerous displays and learning stations inside the Olewine Nature Center reinforce and enhance the lessons children have already learned while on the trails and in school. Take advantage of the numerous displays, learning stations, programs, and special events held at the Nature Center.

Park Hours of Operation

Plan your visit and return throughout the year if you’re able, to see an everchanging landscape. Wildwood Park is a year-round resource for learning and exercise.

Read a similar story and learn more about my love for animals and the outdoors. https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/lake-tobias-wildlife-park/

The park is open daily from dawn until dusk. Nature Center Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Chris Rebert talked to me about the challenges associated with land management and the evolution of Wildwood Lake. He’s shown along one of seven nature trails available to Dauphin County residents and visitors.
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Central Pennsylvania Attractions Central Pennsylvania dining Lifestyle Pennsylvania Bakeries Pennsylvania Cafe

Say “Ciao” To Your Morning

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  • March 13, 2019
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CIAO! Bakery Cafe Harrisburg PA

Bricco’s answer to “What’s for Breakfast?”

Sweeten Your Day

Rosemarie Barbour’s typical workday begins around 5:00 a.m. when she arrives at work in downtown Harrisburg. Rosemarie is Bricco and Ciao Bakery’s executive pastry chef.

“Ciao” is Bricco’s answer to “What’s for breakfast?” and once the door opens at 6:30 a.m., the display case at the front of the cafe is filled with European-style pastries and bread, croissant breakfast sandwiches (with egg and locally sourced cheese) and the aroma screams “freshly brewed coffee.” Customers line up, one by one, to buy scrumptious baked goods and breakfast sandwiches with their favorite morning beverage.

When your morning calls for breakfast on-the-go or it’s your day to bring breakfast to your family or colleagues at your office, “Ciao,” has a selection of sweet and savory treats to please everyone. You can also order gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes.

From the moment you peer into the case, you’ll notice the delicacies are artfully arranged and an up-close glance will further complicate your decision about what to order. Coconut Macaroons and signature Pignoli Cookies are so popular they might not be available but you can special order them or any other bakery item.

Ciao fruit tarts
Ciao fruit tarts are one of the uncompromising baked goods available to customers.

Bricco is Harrisburg’s only Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA), Wine Spectator and Santé magazine award-winning restaurant.

If you live near downtown Harrisburg, PA, chances are Ciao, 304 Chestnut St, Harrisburg, PA, is already your weekday go-to bakery but if you haven’t already discovered this gem, you should make it a point to stop by when you’re downtown. You’ll find European-style croissants (some filled), danishes, scones, muffins, coffee cake, quiche, breakfast sandwiches, and sticky buns, made fresh daily on-site. Ask about the seasonal offerings, specialty cakes, and gluten-free selections.

Ciao Bakery Cafe
Ciao is downtown Harrisburg’s go-to bakery and cafe.

A MADE-TO-ORDER DELI SANDWICH?

Don’t Forget Lunch

Allow time in your day to stop by the cafe for a deli sandwich. Ciao Artisan bakers have taken bread making to a new level of perfection with a light, flaky crust that accentuates the cheeses and deli meats Ciao sources locally in Central Pennsylvania. Do you have a hearty appetite? Add soup and dessert to your repertoire.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT

Rosemarie Barbour
Rosemarie Barbour is the Bricco and Ciao executive pastry chef.

Rosemarie works alongside and shares her expertise with interns from the Olewine School of Culinary Art. The students bring their talents and ideas to Bricco’s kitchens and enhance their already blossoming careers alongside seasoned chefs. Rosemarie described how an internship directly benefits culinary students.


“The program benefits students because they not only get hands-on experience, but they get to work with people with different talents,” she said.

Rosemarie Barbour, Bricco executive pastry chef


Each season and holiday warrants a return of customers’ favorite and also a debut of most unexpected desserts using ingredients like summertime’s juicy berries; pumpkin, apples, and cranberries enhanced with culinary herbs.

What can you count on?

Ciao takes its customers on an evolving culinary journey that begins with extraordinary.

Rosemarie explained, “We do specialty and wedding cakes and a whole lot of French pastries. It varies what we put on the case. We try to keep brownies and the lemon bars stocked at all times but we also create more upscale confections using cream layers and crazy torts, for example. Our customers love them.”

Ask about specialty cakes and desserts.


While most of the cafe’s business is focused on the pastries and bread, Rosemarie and her staff also prepare desserts and bread for Bricco and the 1700 Degrees Steakhouse, the Harrisburg Hilton’s signature restaurant. Being in charge of customers’ dessert destiny is a role Rosemarie embraces with unwavering creativity.

“I love it because I can come up with new ideas flavor combinations, especially with savory desserts. You don’t see that a lot here in Central Pennsylvania,” she said. “I use lavender a lot and have added Jasmine and Rosemary. Herbs add a great flavor.”

Herbs elevate flavor combinations and add great flavor.


MORE ABOUT ROSEMARIE BARBOUR

Rosemarie joined Bricco’s team 13 years ago and returned to a full-time position in October 2016 but she discovered her love for baking many years ago. She received her Associate Degree in Culinary Arts from Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Pittsburgh, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the Restaurant School in Philadelphia.

Visit Ciao Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bakery is closed Saturday and Sunday.

DISCLAIMER:

My media trip was sponsored by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Check out happenings in Central Pennsylvania at https://www.visithersheyharrisburg.org.

PARTNER: Transcription of my interview was provided by Transcribe.

About us: Transcribe has been around for 8 years. We began as a simple do-it-yourself transcription tool but evolved as the overall speech recognition technology matured. We introduced a dictation (voice typing) feature a few years ago when it became reliable enough. Last year we introduced a state-of-the-art automatic machine transcription for pre-recorded audio and video. We support a wide set of languages.

 

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Bass Fishing Catfish Fishing Crappie Fishing Fishing Fishing Guide Services Lifestyle Susquehanna River Fishing

Fishing and Fellowship: Koinonia

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  • January 29, 2019
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Dave Neuman Koinonia Guide Service

Fishing and Fellowship

KOINONIA GUIDED BY FELLOWSHIP AND CONSERVATION

with Dave Neuman, Fishing Guide

 

Fishing and Fellowship are the hallmarks of Koinonia Guide Service, a Carlisle-based guide service
The Susquehanna River is the perfect Pennsylvania river to learn to fish. Dave Neuman offers fishing instruction and an opportunity to reel in catfish and other species.

What is Koinonia?

It’s fishing and fellowship combined with a guarantee you’ll have fun and weather-permitting, catch fish. Koinonia’s professional guides take fishing seriously but they also understand there’s more to fishing than catching fish.

Dave Neuman, Lewisberry, PA, pondered the question, “What is Koinonia?” when he accepted a position as a fishing guide for Koinonia Guide Service based in Carlisle, PA.

Watch this video of Dave Neuman to hear his answer and his thoughts about fishing, Koinonia, and spirituality. Be sure to subscribe to my new YouTube channel.

Whether you’re floating down the Susquehanna River in one of Dave Neuman’s shallow running aluminum bass boats or foraging for fish side-by-side with Dave on his private stretch of land, your fishing experience will be packed with individualized lessons, patience, and laughs – a lot of laughs. Dave’s sense of humor will put you at ease from the moment you meet him.

He’s one of four highly-skilled pro-staff guides available through Koinonia Guide Service, a seasoned business owned by Rod Bates. Koinonia’s fishing adventures are rooted in Rod’s commitment to promoting fellowship and conservation while offering his clients a safe, educational, productive and memorable experience.

Dave Neuman Koinonia Fishing and Fellowship Guide Service
Dave Neuman spends his free time outdoors guiding anglers on the Susquehanna River or on his private stretch of heaven on earth. “Holy,” his canine fishing companion, often assistance with scouting for fish.

I met Dave on Oct. 17, 2018, while I was on assignment for Visit Hershey-Harrisburg. If you live in Northcentral and Northeastern Pennsylvania, you know 2018 brought record rainfall to the state, which resulted in unusually high water levels in all rivers and streams and sporadic fishing throughout the summer and fall months. Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, graciously arranged a mid-afternoon guided fishing trip for me with Dave as my guide, but on that particular day, the river was not fish-able due
to high wind.

That’s when Dave invited me to fish in a rural stocked pond that’s home to a variety of fish species from Smallmouth Bass to Crappie and surrounded by acres of extraordinary scenery. My visit was as much an afternoon retreat as it was a fishing event. The beautiful fish I’m holding below was my first catch of the day, thanks to Dave’s instruction. I’ve fished since I was a child but the last six years I’ve devoted to learning to fly fish. Quickly, I realized how casting a spin rod requires an entirely different skill set than launching a fly onto the water.

Fishing with Koinonia Guide Dave Neuman
With assistance from Dave Neuman and his canine companion, “Holy,” shown along the water’s edge, I managed to reel in a Black Crappie. After an hour of “warm-up” casting in a well-stocked pond, we headed to a nearby stream in search of bass.

As I prepared to drive back to the Hilton downtown Harrisburg on Wednesday evening, Dave offered me a guided trip on the nearby Susquehanna River. We made plans to meet at a boat launch on Friday afternoon. While the temperature was typical of a Pennsylvania fall day – chilly, the boat rides back and forth to the channel where Catfish often hide, was exhilarating and so was the moment I felt a hefty tug on the line. Out of the water came a TROPHY-SIZE 28-inch Catfish.


Yes, Dave is a perfect example of Koinonia’s commitment to extraordinary service. The beginner to the advanced angler can count on a guided trip that best suits their needs. Canoe and wading trips are available during warmer weather for anglers who prefer a more active approach but individuals who find wading physically demanding can opt for a float trip. Be sure to let Rod know your preferences when you book your date

What should you bring on your guiding fishing trip?

Don’t leave home without a valid fishing license, clothing appropriate for current weather conditions, rubber-soled or wading shoes or boots, rain gear, sunglasses, lunch or snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and of course, your camera to record your fishing trip.

What should you leave at home?

I remember years ago, during my first guided trip, I worried about whether my casting was up to par. It wasn’t and by no means do I have a perfect cast today. That’s when instruction through Koinonia’s guided service is exactly what you need.

My Advice

Be sure to leave your worries or pre-conceived notions about your perceived skill level behind you when you meet Dave Neuman. If you’re in the Harrisburg area Feb. 2 to 10, you can meet Rod and learn more about Koinonia at the Great American Outdoor Show, Booth # 2408, in the fishing hall at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. Stop by their booth or schedule your trip by calling Rod Bates at 717-805-7082.

The Great American Outdoor Show and the PA Farm Show are two of many events held throughout the year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. You’ll find a full schedule here.

My guided trip was comped by Visit Hershey-Harrisburg but my thoughts and opinions are my own. To learn more about Pennsylvania’s state capital, its businesses, and activities available, click here.

The Susquehanna River is a hot spot for catfish, smallmouth bass, crappie and other fish species.
Treat your family and yourself to a day fishing on the mighty Susquehanna River, known for its trophy-sized fish.

Watch my YouTube video with Dave Neuman

Watch this brief clip from my YouTube channel.

While listening to Dave’s instruction and seriously doubting my ability to reel in a large Catfish, out of the water came this gorgeous fish. Catfish are FIGHTERS and fortunately, Dave was closeby to help as needed.

You can learn more about Dave in this video also available on my YouTube channel. Share his story with your fishing friends.


Rod Bates describes Dave Neuman as a “Die Hard” angler, who “Spends more time on the water than anyone we know of.”

Stay at the posh Hilton Harrisburg during your next trip to Harrisburg, PA. Read my companion story: https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/hilton/
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Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Attractions Chocolate chocolate attractions Chocolate Manufacturer Custom trips and tours Events Exhibits Food Food and Travel history Holiday Travel Lifestyle Museums Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Attractions and Musuems

Chocolate Dreams Are Sweet

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  • November 12, 2018
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Chocolate Hershey Bar

Hershey Story Museum Tells a Sugary Tale

Melding Chocolate Culture with History

Milton S. Hershey School
The Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free residential school was founded by Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, for children from lower-income families. The lobby mural brings to life the iconic entrepreneur and philanthropist, Milton S. Hershey.  Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Chocolate Dreams Are Sweet for visitors to Hershey, PA.  You’ll leave Chocolate Town with the aroma of chocolate embedded in your mind and senses.

Most of all, who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending?

We’ve all heard of extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs and we can’t help but wonder how they rose above the day-to-day challenges associated with running a business. Milton S. Hershey is an individual we can admire for his dream and vision but he wasn’t an instant success.

Where can you learn more about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy?

At the Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Company’s most recent building endeavor.

The Hershey Story Museum
Learn how Milton S. Hershey rose from rags to riches. Plan a visit to the Hershey Story Museum. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The Hershey museum opened in January 2009 in the heart of downtown Hershey, a magical town where the streetlights are modeled after Hershey Kisses and the aroma within each building is a reminder of why chocolate is a good as gold. More than 160,000 people visit the museum every year.

The story goes that around the turn of the century, chocolate was a booming business and Milton Hershey was so inspired, he sold his caramel business and broke ground for a new chocolate factory in nearby Derry Township, his hometown. For as long as I can remember, the Hershey bar has been a symbol of chocolatey sweetness and the iconic chocolate-colored wrapper that has evolved over the years is also a reminder of days gone by. But it’s more than the chocolate that’s represented in the museum. It’s Milton Hershey’s rag to riches’ story. Walk into a grocery store or anywhere that food is sold and you’ll likely find a product manufactured by the Hershey Company. More than a century after Hershey built his factory, Hershey products are manufactured and savored around the world.

Milton S. Hershey legacy
Buttons. dials and story-board exhibits teach children about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

My recent media trip to Hershey was a fascinating mix of chocolate culture. The Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Ave., Hershey, Pennsylvania, helps to tie together the entire Hershey experience with a mix of exhibits and archives that will ignite your curiosity about the art of chocolate making and demystify the man who started the company from scratch. Where are the ingredients sourced? Where does Hershey find such large quantities of cocoa beans to mass produce chocolate? Where do the sugar and dairy that are key ingredients in many of products originate? The exhibits answer those questions through visuals and hands-on experimentation that every child and adult should experience at least once.

The Hershey Museum Cuba Exhibit
What was Milton Hershey’s relationship with Cuba? Find out at the exhibit happening at The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey, PA. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Milton S. Hershey Cuba Award
Discover why Milton S. Hershey’s was awarded
the “Grand Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” by Cuba’s president in 1933. Image courtesy of The Hershey Story Museum.

The “Failures to Fortunes” exhibit is one that particularly illustrates how determination can result in ultimate success. Milton S. Hershey found success while at the Lancaster Caramel Company and grew his company from there into a booming chocolate business. Each piece in the exhibits is presented so they appeal to adults and children. 

Don’t leave the museum without stopping at The Pantry Cafe for coffee, sweets and confections, a smoothie, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and other treats to round out your museum experience.

Come to the museum as a family or plan a school field or scout trip to the museum. Winter can be long and boring. Check out the calendar of events here and beat the January and February blues at The Hershey Story Museum.

Chocolate World
What do you love most about chocolate? The taste, smooth texture, or the creaminess that melts in your mouth, or all of the above? I’d love to know your answer. Please leave a comment on the form below and share your thoughts on Instagram at #ChocolateWorld.

Hershey Chocolate World

The Hershey Story Museum is only a few Hershey Kiss miles away (nine minutes) from Hershey’s Chocolate World, another extraordinarily popular attraction. This one is free. You can board the chocolate making tour and find and smell the outrageous chocolate aroma throughout your tour.  Hershey’s famous characters tell the story of chocolate making that begins with cocoa beans and ends with the wrapping process.

Chocolate Hershey Bar
The M.S. Hershey timeline helps keep the evolution of Milton Hershey’s cherished business in perspective. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
chocolate tours
Hershey’s famous characters greet you around each bend and help describe the chocolate-making process. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Find your seat on the indoor tour tram. Tours run continuously throughout the day every 30 minutes (during business hours) and it’s WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. After you’ve learned everything you should know about chocolate making, head to the 3D Chocolate Mystery Show and by that time, oh, you’ll be ready to create your own candy bar. The fun continues with the Hershey Trolley Tour, a seasonal way to view the incredible array of attractions Hershey offers its visitors. Book your tickets in advance online for the Holly Jolly Trolley that’ll delight your children. Or stop at the Central Ticketing office to purchase tickets. Caroling, stories, and a visit from a special guest will keep you entertained and set you in a holiday mode.

I visited Hershey in late summer and early fall and arrived to find flowers in bloom and meticulously manicured grounds and a flurry of activity.  Each season brings something new in this old-fashioned town. Put down your electronic devices so you can appreciate the farmlands and rolling hills that lead to Hershey. Play a game about what you see, or count the number of cows along the way to prepare your family for the attractions that will greet them at Hershey.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, and other Chocolate Dreams are Sweet examples of Milton S. Hershey’s legacy. Visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org for a complete list of Hershey attractions.

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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Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Countryside Exhibits Family Destinations Family Travel kids and adult activities Lifestyle outdoor fun Outdoor Recreation Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Outdoor Activities Safari Tours Things to do near Harrisburg Hershey PA Travel and Leisure Travel News trip planning Uncategorized wildlife programs Zoo Exhibits

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

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  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

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. Expect a personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, but the educational programs for all ages are equally as important. The park also offers a picnic area and a concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias.

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 the 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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