Just when you thought the world was a plastic garbage can, this amazing stork comes to brighten your day. Over the past 16 years, without fail, a male stork has flown over 14,000 kilometers to be with her mate, unable to fly after she was shot by poachers. The Klepetan stork travels from her winter home in South Africa to the home of her partner Malena in Croatia every March, where they gather to breed.
Malena was shot in 1993, but was brought home by a local hero after finding her by a lake and cared for until she regained her health. “ If I had left it in the pond, the foxes would have eaten it. But I changed her destiny, so now I am responsible for her life, “said Stjepan Vokic, the man who takes care of Malena. Now, although she can no longer migrate, she has a very sweet life. Vokic has built a “makeshift Africa” where she can keep warm, and he takes care of her by bathing her, fishing in the river, and making sure her feet are well hydrated. She even watches stork documentaries with her so she doesn’t feel lonely and takes her fishing.
Klepetan arrives every March, when spring begins in Croatia, after traveling for a month from his winter home. Every spring, Vokic builds a new nest on his roof so that when Klepetan arrives, the pair can mate, and so far, they have had 62 chicks together. In the fall, Klepetan returns to South Africa with his new family, and Malena stays with his human friend. Vokic says the couple struggle to say goodbye every year, and Malena hides and stops eating when she knows that Klepetan is about to leave.
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