A stork has flown to the same rooftop in Croatia each year for 14 years to be reunited with his crippled partner who cannot migrate after she was shot by a hunter.

The faithful bird, called Klepetan, returns to the village of Slavonski Brod, in east Croatia, after a migration of 8,000 km.

He spends his winters alone in South Africa because his disabled partner, Malena, cannot fly properly.


Klepetan keeps a very strict timetable, usually arriving back at the same time on the same day in March each year.


Malena had been found lying by the side the road by schoolteacher, Stjepan Vokic, who fixed her wing and kept her in his home for years before helping her to build a nest on his roof.

After placing her there, she was spotted by Klepetan.  And now, every year, they are reunited in the Spring.


Each summer, they raise a pair of chicks, with Klepetan giving the flying lessons in preparation for the trip south in Summer.


After leading the adult chicks south, Klepetan spends his winters alone in South Africa. But this year he did not return at the usual time, causing panic among local media and fans of the stork couple.

Finally, there was huge excitement when stork-watchers saw what they thought was Klepetan circling over the nest and then come in to land.


But the new arrival turned out to be a different stork that was attempting to woo Malena.

She quickly attacked him and drove him off and continued to wait for Klepetan.


Heart-warming …. Klepetan finally returned, once again, six days late. This year, Malena made a rare flight and the couple were reportedly inseparable for hours. She does have the ability to make very short flights but her wing has not healed well enough for her to make the trip to Africa, or even to properly feed herself.




The oldest recorded living stork is 39.

Locals are hopeful the couple’s long relationship will continue for years to come.



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