After the recent break-up of Brangelina, here’s a rock-solid couple that will restore your faith in romance. Yes, these two storks are literal love birds, and they’re a perfect example of how absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Croatia’s most famous animal couple. For instance, 22 years ago female stork Malena had a fateful encounter with an Italian hunter that would change her life forever.
Fortunately, Malena was lucky enough to keep her life, but the encounter cost her one of her wings. In fact, the hunter’s shot brought her down to the ground and broke her wing. And even after she had recovered, the damage was too severe to support her flight, and she never flew again.
Meanwhile, male stork Klepetan was enjoying the high life in the skies. After all, storks are migratory birds. In fact, every year, as the colder weather begins, they fly south for the winter to warmer climates until spring has sprung once more.
Each autumn, the birds take off and travel thousands of miles to chase the warm weather. Interestingly, their arrival back from their nine-month trip may be one of the reasons why they’re associated with bringing people babies. Plus, this particular folk tale was popularized by one of Hans Christian Andersen’s more sinister stories.
So, what became of flightless Malena? Well, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for her. Indeed, she found a lovely home in a little village called Brodski Varoš and a new human friend in the form of Stjepan Vokić. Vokić, incidentally, is a big-hearted former school janitor.
And Vokić took Malena in and looked after her, giving her a place to live on his red rooftop. In fact, it was here where a nest was set up for her to roost. Fortunately, too, Malena didn’t appear to have any difficulty meeting other storks.
That’s because 15 years ago, Malena met Klepetan, and it must have been love at first sight. After all, the storks have been together ever since. And despite Malena’s inability to join her soulmate in his migration, she and Klepetan have a love that proves long-distance relationships can work.
There’s a bittersweet element to the couple’s story, though. After all, when the time comes for Klepetan to migrate again, Malena can only bid her beloved farewell and wait for his safe return. But love can move mountains, and it brings her sweetheart back to her every time.
“It is a story of longing, waiting and overcoming one of the hardest obstacles in any relationship – distance,” Total Croatia News reported in an article dedicated to the devoted lovers. It’s no trifling distance either: Klepetan must travel over 8,000 miles to return to Malena.
When he gets back, though, Klepetan knows a huge welcome will be waiting for him. And that’s not just from Malena, either. In fact, Vokić always has a nice gift for the tired traveler when Klepetan completes his return trip.
“Each year [Vokić] prepares a bucket of fish to greet Klepetan upon his return so he can recover from the long journey and take his place in the nest next to Malena,” Total Croatia News explained. In 2016, however, Klepetan caught his human friend by surprise.
In fact, the far-flying stork finished his migration trip prematurely and came back a week ahead of schedule. He was so early that Vokić hadn’t even laid out his usual welcome feast for the returning traveler. Indeed, this behavior was so unusual that some neighbors questioned if it was really Klepetan.
But Vokić had no doubts. After all, the loyal Klepetan knew exactly where to go for food. “He went straight to the bucket of fish, which was empty because I was not expecting him yet, and only he knows where to find it,” Vokić reported.
“Then, of course, [he] went to the nest just like every other year. That’s Klepetan all right,” he added. Curiously, storks coming from Croatia and other parts of Europe used to spend their winter months on the African savannah or in Nigeria. However, recently migrating routes are changing.
According to the British Trust of Ornithology, which has been monitoring storks with global tracking systems, wintering storks get most of their food from landfill sites. However, new regulations have closed a number of landfills and “an increasing number [of migrating storks] have started wintering in southern Europe.”
Of course, it’s possible that the change in regulations have altered Klepetan’s wintering routes. Luckily, this should allow him to stay closer to his beloved Malena and get back to her sooner. If that’s the case, the journey would certainly be safer for him, and it’s not just Malena and Vokić that would be happy.
In the spring, for instance, Klepetan is usually met with the flock of paparazzi ready to document his yearly return to Malena. And for the last 15 years, they haven’t been disappointed. Yes, the love the storks share has weathered the yearly migration, despite the distance.
“[The] Croatian Tourist Board also recognized the heart-warming story of love and dedicated an animated clip to the now famous couple so we invite you to watch it and say hello to someone you love,” Total Croatia News reported. It’s everything that Romeo and Juliet should have been.
Klepetan and Malena embody the love everyone wishes to find with their soulmate, despite the ob-stork-cles. Even more encouragingly, they have had a family of over 40 storklets together.