For those of you Lancastrians who don't really want to go into Philly to see a zoo but would like to do something "wild"...I've got the answer for you. Take a day trip to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax, PA this weekend! You won't regret it.
Where is Halifax, PA, might you ask? It's about 20 miles north of Harrisburg near the east bank of the Susquehanna River. The Wildlife Park was founded in 1965 when Mr. JR Tobias brought home some exotic animal babies from a trip out west who then began to attract lots of curious onlookers at the property. His vision to create a refuge where animals can exist and be approached in safety has blossomed into the park open today on many acres of hillside near the town. According to the park website, the park attracts over 100,000 visitors a year. Can you believe you'd never heard of this place before?
The park is laid out around a very large manmade lake, which Mr. Tobias built himself (he happened to own an excavating company at the time - very handy in scuplting the landscape). A "safari bus" tour leaves regularly during the day to take groups up to the higher land which simulates a sort of African-tundra experience. Many different species of animla co-exist out here and are used to the rumbling of the buses through their area. They are not shy - they will stick their noses into the bus looking for a snack! Our kids loved it.
Near the lake below, there is a large zoo-like arrangement with everything from bengal tigers to black bears. The ostrich will try to get your hat! There is a daily reptile show indoors during the summer months where alligators and snakes (big ones) are paraded out the audience to pet and gawk at. Everything at the park is very well run and courteous. Our host, Alison, was very knowledgable and answered even the dumbest questions about the various animals. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the entire experience.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is open May through October annually. October hours are 10-6. I highly encourage you to pack the kids in the car and make the trip up - allow at least 4 hours at the park and be sure to take the safari bus trip. Enjoy!