Love is often said to know no distance, and one couple in Croatia serves as a remarkable example of this sentiment. For the past 17 years, a devoted stork named Klepetan has been traveling thousands of kilometers to visit his disabled partner, Malena.
The story of Klepetan and Malena began many years ago in Brodski Varos in eastern Croatia, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1993, Stjepan Vokić, a widower living in Croatia, took in a female stork who had been shot by hunters and named her Malena. He was able to tame her to the point where, as he claims, they even watch television together. After some time, a suitor named Klepetan began visiting Malena at the nest built on the rooftop, and their relationship blossomed.
However, as autumn approached, Klepetan, driven by instinct, migrated to warmer climates. Malena was unable to join him due to her disability. But in the spring, everyone’s spirits lifted when Klepetan returned to his partner.
Since then, 16 years have passed and Klepetan still makes the yearly journey back to Malena, covering a distance of around 14,000 kilometers from Croatia to southern Africa. The couple has had 62 chicks together over the years. Klepetan always arrives in March at the same time, and Vokić prepares a large portion of fish for him to eat after the long trip. During the winter, Malena lives in a specially built heated chamber with an aquarium for fish. Her devoted caretaker also applies cream to her legs to keep her skin from drying out without access to water.
This heartwarming story of Klepetan and Malena serves as a reminder that love truly knows no distance and can overcome any obstacle.