San Antonio Zoo Hosts Tear-filled Military Homecoming After 500 Days

Photo: San Antonio Zoo

In true "Military City USA" style, San Antonio Zoo hosted a special surprise for three military children with giraffes Alan, Cosmo, and Brayden in attendance. It was only the second time the children had seen their father in more than 500 days, and the last visit lasted less than a week.

United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Trymaine Kelley, with the help of his wife, Megan, surprised their children Thursday morning after secretly coming home and coordinating an unforgettable moment only the zoo could provide. Due to pandemic precautions, his typical 30-day rest and relaxation leave was reduced to a week-long training event.

"I could not have dreamed up a better reunion after 507 days of military separation," said Megan Kelley. "Thank you to the zoo for making this day so magical for our kids. They will remember this day for years to come. We are so grateful for this experience."

After the teary-eyed reunion, the zoo treated the family to a day of memorable animal encounters, lunch, and a private meeting with the zoo's mascot, Cowboy.

"We are incredibly grateful to be a part of such a special homecoming surprise for the Kelley family," said President & CEO San Antonio Zoo, Tim Morrow. "The pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us. For Staff Sgt. Kelley to have left before the start of that crisis; I can only imagine how that added to the hardships for him overseas and his family here in the United States. We are honored to be a part of their family, if only for a day, and I can't say thank you enough for all their sacrifices."

San Antonio Zoo has been a long-standing supporter of military members and their families. Every November, the zoo hosts Zoo Salutes honoring active duty, retired, and veteran members of the military, National Guard, and Reserves with free admission to the zoo and reduced ticket prices for up to four immediate family members. These month-long salutes have been sponsored by military-focused organizations based in San Antonio, such as USAA and Warriors Heart. For more information on Zoo Salutes, visit the zoo's website,

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