Learn about the zoo, our 55+ year history, and what visitors have to say about us!
Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland is a world-class specialized zoo offering an unparalleled educational adventure for the whole family! Exotic reptiles and amphibians from around the world await discovery in stunning, naturalistic habitats, introducing visitors to the less-loved members of the animal kingdom. Explore the world of mambas, cobras, vipers, pythons and other rare and beautiful snakes, and experience giant alligators, gentle tortoises, curious lizards, and colorful frogs on this zoological journey.
Reptiland is truly a year-round attraction. The indoor exhibit gallery houses more than 40 species in recreated natural habitats, and Island Giants showcases giant Aldabra tortoises and our Komodo dragons–the world’s largest lizards. During the warmer months, tortoises and aquatic turtles live in outdoor habitats, and seasonal exhibits make for an even more exciting family destination. Dinosaurs Come to Life is an outdoor, animatronic dinosaur adventure, and Parakeet Landing offers an immersive experience surrounded by hundreds of flitting beauties. A visit to Reptiland explodes common myths and inspires scientific curiosity.
The average Reptiland visit takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours, but there is no limit to the length of a visit. Exhibits are self-guided, and it’s generally best to arrive just before to a show.
History of Reptiland: A chronology of the last 55+ years
1964 – Reptiland opened July 11. Convinced that a clean, well-managed reptile zoo could support itself entirely by those who used the facility, Reptiland was designed around the philosophy that people want to see large and venomous reptiles and learn about them while being entertained.
1967 – Built main entrance building that includes restrooms, gift shop, food operation, office, and living quarters.
1968 – A new reptile house replaced an earlier and temporary shelter. This new reptile house underwent numerous changes and served our needs through 1995.
1969 – Constructed a 30’ X 40’ concrete pit in which we attempted to exhibit native Pennsylvania snakes. To our dismay, we learned that meaningful management of the animals was impossible, and we converted this area to a crocodilian exhibit in the mid 70s.
1973 – Clyde led his first photographic safari to the Amazon.
1983 – Developed The Cricket Machine, a coin operated behavioral enrichment device. Allowed visitors to gain a better understanding of predator-prey relationships.
1985 – A tornado damaged much of our perimeter fence and corn-crib style cages, which had been used for mammals and birds. We subsequently developed those areas into outdoor reptile enclosures.
1986 – Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), formerly the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
1989 – Constructed the Program Center with seating for over 150 guests.
1991 – Purchased and renovated an existing reptile zoo in Catskill, NY.
1994 – Produced a 20 minute multi-image show, The Beautiful and The Deadly, to augment our lecture demonstrations. The Beautiful and The Deadly has since been reformatted into a video presentation.
1996 – Built a 5,000 square foot reptile & amphibian complex, allowing us to display the entire collection year-round.
1997 – Held our first fundraiser, Zoo Blues, for the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force to help with amphibian conservation.
1998 – Made renovations to the Natural Selections Gift Shop and diversified the selection of merchandise to include more education-based products.
1999 – Celebrated 35 years in business and premiered the first traveling exhibit, Reptiles: The Beautiful and The Deadly, at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey.
2003 – Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, Reptiland’s second and most popular traveling exhibition, hit the road.
2005 – A second version of Frogs: A Chorus of Colors was built for The Baltimore Aquarium.
2006 – The Scoop on Poop: The Science of What Animals Leave Behind debuted at the Virginia Living Museum.
2007 – The specialized show Venom featuring a cobra, rattlesnake, and Gila monster, premiered at the zoo. Reptiland created the GEICO Gecko Exhibit to promote the conservation partnership between GEICO Insurance and AZA.
2008 – AZA declared 2008 the Year of The Frog to shed light on the declining amphibian crisis. Geckos: Tails To Toepads hit the road for its first venue in Redding, California.
2009 – Reptiland opened Butterflies, a seasonal butterfly exhibit featuring hundreds of native butterflies within a beautifully landscaped greenhouse.
2010 – Chad Peeling contributed to the book Cane Toads and Other Rogue Species. The Natural Selections Gift Shop was expanded and updated to a new, modern look.
2011 – The phenomenally successful exhibit Dinosaurs Come to Life roared into Reptiland. Construction began on a new building designed expressly to house Komodo dragons.
2012 – With the continued success of Dinosaurs Come to Life, we purchased six static dinosaurs to remain on the grounds year-round. Construction continued on Island Giants, the future home of two Komodo dragons. Reptiland’s entrance building started undergoing its first face lift in over 25 years!
2013 – The much anticipated and long-awaited Island Giants exhibit opened to the public on June 14. This exhibit houses our male and female Komodo dragons in a state-of-the-art naturalistic habitat and green building complete with living roof. Reptiland donated more than $100,000 worth of goods and services to local organizations, continuing to support the Susquehanna Valley and surrounding areas.
2014 – Reptiland turned 50! With three kid-friendly events and Reptiland’s first adult-only bash, it was the summer of celebrations at the zoo. The Summer Celebration Series consisted of themed events: Dino Day, Buggin’ Out, and Reptiland Safari. Kids enjoyed fun activities, face-painting, giveaways, and more. Cheers to 50 Years let adults come and raise a glass to Reptiland with free samples from local wineries and breweries, live music, and quality time at the zoo. Clyde Peeling also published his book, Reptiland: How a Boyhood Dream became a Modern Zoo.
2015 – Introduced new live shows Lizards & Snakes Alive and The Ruling Reptiles. Hosted Ghost of the Bayou, a limited-time exhibit featuring the rare white alligator. Welcomed Dr. Dino (Chris DeLorey) for our Dino Days weekend in June. Partnered with Wine and Design Williamsport and Genetti Hotel & Suites to host a fundraiser for amphibians; all proceeds were donated to the Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group’s grant program. Our popular fall event, Flashlight Safari, returned for the first time in three years, and we launched our Adopt-an-Animal program just in time for the holiday season.
2016 – Another successful and event-filled year at the zoo! The butterfly greenhouse was converted into a walk-through aviary called Parakeet Landing. This proved a positive change as guests loved interacting with and feeding the 300 budgies in the exhibit. We also hosted three major events, including Croctoberfest, an adult-only fundraiser for crocodilian conservation. This event was generously sponsored by the Genetti Hotel & Suites, included beer tastings from 6 local breweries, live music on Komodo Plaza, a souvenir mini beer mug, and more. Just before the year came to a close, Reptiland Originals, a collection of animal art and prints, debuted in the gift shop.
2017 – Our outdoor dinosaur exhibit now features a Fossil Dig educational play area! Hidden beneath the sand is the cast of a dinosaur skeleton. Using the guide posted on the back wall, you can unearth and identify different parts of the dinosaur. The Fossil Dig was a hit during our annual Dino Days event in the summer. Later in the year, we held our 2nd annual Croctoberfest, which raised additional funds for crocodilian conservation. Around Halloween, visitors joined us after hours for our Flashlight Safari. Since many of our animals are more active in the dark, the Flashlight Safari offers a glimpse of what they do when nobody is watching. A new public path was created by moving the perimeter fence at the south end of the property west, and we also added an entry roof over the north end of reptile house.
2018 – The Reptiland team spent much of the early part of the year preparing for its once-every-five-year accreditation inspection. Professionals from other accredited zoos as well as a zoo veterinarian examined all aspects of our facility. These inspections are always stressful, but we feel we are a better zoo because of them. Every facet is scrutinized—animal husbandry, record keeping, veterinary care, finances, esthetics, visitor services, etc. And although Chad Peeling had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2016, he, his brother Elliot, and Clyde traveled to Seattle to meet with the committee to receive accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
2019 – This was a devastating year. After a three-year struggle, Chad Peeling passed away in September. Chad was an integral part in making Reptiland a modern zoological park, and the void he left, both personally and professionally, can never be filled. Fortunately, Chad and his wife, Chris, were able to visit Botswana and Rwanda, where he visited the mountain gorillas, before his death. Zoo operations are now managed by Clyde and Elliot.
Despite the year’s immense loss, we hosted Winos & Dinos, a new adult-only event, in August. We welcomed local wineries, food trucks, and amazing live music to entertain guests throughout the Dinosaurs Come to Life exhibit. It was a great evening, and we hope to make this event an annual one.
2020 – The year started out promising with strong visitation, but things quickly changed when we were shut down on March 17, along with many other businesses, due to COVID-19. We were able to continue to provide excellent care to our animals during the shutdown thanks to our phenomenal team. We reopened Reptiland on June 5 and remained open all summer with safety precautions in place to protect guests and zoo staff alike. We brought a small slice of normalcy back to the zoo by hosting two events in the fall: Jurassic Park: Fact or Fiction and Flashlight Safari (with limited attendance, masks, and social distancing). It was short-lived though, as the holiday season brought with it another forced closure of the zoo.
We are always adapting and evolving, and as a result, we launched Zoo Zooms in December. Zoo Zooms were designed to safely bring the zoo to you, whether in a remote educational setting or a virtual gathering with family & friends. It won’t be the same as visiting in person, but it’s the next best thing (and the only option for some during this difficult time).
2021 – Reptiland reopened for the second time on January 9, and we’re looking forward to a bigger, better, brighter year here at the zoo (and for all of you)!
Read testimonials from people who have experienced all that Reptiland has to offer.
“Most people in our area do not realize that we have one of the premiere reptile zoos in the country (if not the world) in our own backyard.”
“Pretty impressive zoo. I’ve been coming here for years, and it keeps getting better. It’s become a real quality zoo with a lot of educational materials mixed with nice display animals.”
“All staff went above and beyond to make our visit enjoyable. We came late, and they let us see everything!”
“We’ve passed this place numerous times, but never stopped, until this week. And what a surprise it was. A quality experience, educational, exciting, and a certain ‘wow’ factor….Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland is a first rate zoo and attraction.”
“Dino exhibit was hands down the best we’ve ever seen!”
“I recently was in for a visit with relatives from out of the area. It had been a while since I had been in, but the place is looking great, lots of changes! Keep up the good work!”