Located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park offers guided safari tours through a 150-acre wildlife preserve, showcasing animals from six continents in recreated natural habitats. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park was the vision of J.R. Tobias, who held a lifelong interest in rare and non-native wildlife and agriculture.
Though he had initially planned to study biology and agriculture in college, he joined the Marine corps in 1943 and served in World War II before starting an excavation business, relegating his interest in animals to a hobby pursuit. Following his military service, Tobias conceived of the idea of creating a drive-through wildlife habitat using school buses as “safari” tour vehicles. Throughout the 1960s, he converted his family’s home property in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania into a wildlife park facility, constructing a number of man-made stream-fed lakes throughout the 150-acre property. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park opened to the public as a wildlife safari attraction in 1965.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the park endured a number of operational hardships, including a 1989 tornado that destroyed several park structures and a 1992 bovine tuberculosis outbreak that led to a major animal restocking. The park rebounded in the 21st century, however, with a number of major expansions, including the renovation of black bear and tiger habitats in 2006 and the installation of a facility for African lions and baboons in 2008, the latter of which received the Mid-Atlantic BX Craftsmanship Award. In 2011, the park opened a new Reptile and Exotics section, and in 2017, the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center was opened. Additional exhibits are planned as part of major renovations, including the construction of a giraffe exhibit.
Permanent Attractions and Tours
Today, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is operated as a family-owned wildlife safari park, owned and managed by Tobias’ six children and grandson. More than 170,000 annual visitors attend the park’s exhibits and safari tours, with park revenue funding all facility activities and programming. A variety of exotic mammals, reptiles, and birds are showcased throughout the park’s 150-acre space, showcasing animals within recreated natural habitats along a guided tour route. As an open-air safari park, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park serves as a family wildlife educational facility, offering interactive experiences with the natural world for visitors of all ages.
Park safari tours are offered on a continual basis throughout the day, operated approximately every 10 to 15 minutes. Tours embark from the park’s Safari Station, which offers amenities such as a snack shop, restrooms, and a large loading area. All safari tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are led by park tour guides, taking visitors through the 150-acre park’s exhibits and natural wildlife areas in an open-air cruiser. More than 500 animals are showcased throughout the safari route, including North American bison, African watusi, Asian water buffalo, and European fallow deer. Throughout the tour, visitors may experience the park’s animals up close, with some animals coming near enough to the cruiser for direct interaction.
In addition to safari tours, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park offers a variety of zoo exhibits, showcasing hundreds of species of rare and exotic wildlife. Visitors may explore the park’s exhibits at their leisure, with at least one hour of allotted exploration time recommended. A number of large native and non-native mammals are showcased, including African lions, Bengal tigers, kangaroos, zebras, camels, baboons, and black bears. Wild bird habitat areas showcase ostriches, rheas, East African crowned cranes, and peacocks, while several exhibits highlight endangered species such as tamarins and marmosets.
The park’s Reptile and Exotics Facility, opened in 2011, features large custom habitats for a variety of animals, including alligators, snakes, tortoises, sloths, lemurs, and tropical birds. Daily educational presentations at the facility allow for interactive opportunities with animals, including touch opportunities. A Children’s Petting Zoo facility is also offered, allowing young visitors to have up-close touch opportunities with domestic farm animals and exotic animals, including African pygmy goats, alpacas, and camels. Carrot and feeding pellet cups are sold at a booth within the petting zoo, and coin-operated dispensers throughout the facility also provide feeding treats. According to USDA regulations, no outside feeding materials are permitted within the petting zoo for animal safety and health.
A variety of food items are available throughout the park for purchase at concession stands, and several gift shops sell animal-themed souvenirs. Alligator feedings are offered daily at the park’s alligator exhibit, held around 4:00pm or whenever alligators are warm enough for feeding. The park’s Baby Animal Crew offers care for young animals born at the park who have been rejected by their parents or need additional care for illnesses or nursing difficulties. Opportunities for visitors to interact with young animals are provided, along with question-and-answer sessions with Baby Animal Crew staff. A variety of public special events are held at the facility throughout the year, including a Founder’s Day event, a Boo at the Zoo Halloween event, and a Wild Days Weekend celebration.
760 Tobias Road, Halifax, PA 17032, Phone: 717-362-9126