GREGG TOWNSHIP -- A family run zoo in Union County celebrates 50 years today. Newswatch 16 went to Reptiland where families stopped by to take a look at all the scaly critters.
Slithering snakes, crocodilians, and now komodo dragons. They are all inside Clyde Peeling's Reptiland. It is a zoo on Route 15 near Allenwood made especially for these creatures.
“It was a boyhood dream and I knew when I was twelve that I wanted to build a zoo for reptiles,” said Clyde Peeling the owner of Reptiland.
Owner Clyde Peeling opened the zoo in 1964.
"We started the first year with just 24 cages with just snakes and lizards and one alligator,” said Peeling.
This week the accredited zoo celebrates 50 years. Richard Hahn walked around the park. He said he was here when it first opened.
"Cages on a wooden table. Someone walking around and hanging a boa constrictor on your neck, things like that," said Hahn.
Fifty years ago they started out with reptiles like the boa constrictor and if that wasn't exciting enough, they had to make more exhibits like the exhibit, "Reptiles Come to Life."
“So far she loves the dinosaurs I was very surprised, because they are animated. I thought she would be afraid, but she loved them,” said Rachael Bailey from Millville.
Rachael Bailey brought her two-year-old, Lena, to the zoo for the first time. Bailey said she remembers coming to the park when she was young.
"I was probably about 8 years old the last time I was here," said Bailey.
“And it makes me feel old, of course, because they came maybe when they were young and here they are bringing their grandchildren through Reptiland but there is a warm satisfaction about that,” said Peeling.
Peeling plans to celebrate 50 years with a private party. He said he has taken a step back and for the most part lets his children run the zoo.
Reptiland is open all year long.