National Guardsman surprises his children at San Diego Zoo

Kids did not think dad would be home for holidays

SAN DIEGO - A visit to the San Diego Zoo Thursday turned into a heartwarming reunion for a National Guardsman and his three young children.

Staff Sgt. Adan Mancilla was away from his family for nearly 10 months, and his sons Luciano, 7, and 5-year-old Lyonel; and 2-year-old daughter Lucero, did not think he would be home in time for the holidays.

However, Mancilla was able to return from Afghanistan, and with the help of the San Diego Zoo, he and his wife planned to grant their children their Christmas wish at their favorite family getaway.

During a show at Joan Embery's Front Street Stage, Luciano and Lyonel were brought on stage to meet Rico the toucan. The two boys were asked to stay on stage for another encounter, and their father came up behind and surprised them.

Lucero, only a year old when she last saw her father, yelled "papa" and ran onto the stage to join the reunion.

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