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Summer Day Getaway: Explore Exotic Critters at the Reptiland

by on July 11, 2014 6:45 AM

Fifty years might not be a long time for an animal like the giant tortoise, but Clyde Peeling says “it’s amazing how fast the time has passed” since he opened Reptiland.

Beginning as a small roadside attraction in Allenwood back in 1964, Clyde Peeling's Reptiland has become Pennsylvania’s largest accredited private zoo and boasts a collection of over 40 species of reptiles and amphibians.

To celebrate, Peeling is putting on a party. In addition to the regular collection of exotic animals and interactive exhibits, Friday will feature a daylong “Cheers to 50 Years” celebration, complete with live music and tastings from microbreweries and wineries.

“It’s going to be a fun night,” Peeling says. “Like with anything else, we’re always looking for an excuse to have a party.”

If you can’t make it for the anniversary celebration, Reptiland is open each day of the week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer. Located about an hour away from State College near the scenic west branch of the Susquehanna River, Reptiland is a popular family destination.

Visitors during the summer months can enjoy the zoo’s seasonal exhibits. In the butterfly greenhouse you're surrounded by the swirling colors of butterfly wings. There is also a garden of animatronic dinosaurs, which Peeling says never fails to impress the children.

In addition to being fun for the whole family, Peeling says he wants visiting his zoo to be an educational experience. Reptiland staff will take animals out of their habitats to field questions and give visitors a closer look at some fascinating animals.

Peeling says Reptiland has a comprehensive collection of Pennsylvania's snakes and lizards, but the main focus is the exotic animals: massive pythons and annacondas, tiny and poisonous South African frogs, lumbering giant tortoises and – mostly recently – the largest reptiles in the world: Komodo Dragons.

“When I was a kid, I knew absolutely no one who was interested in these animals like I was, but for whatever reason I was attracted to them,” Peeling says.

Now with fifty years of success under his belt, it seems like Peeling has finally found people from all over Pennsylvania that share his interest.

You can learn more by visiting or by calling (570) 538-1869.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a general assignment reporter for, a graduate of Penn State and a published poet. He's also a musician who plays bass in an indie rock band.
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