He’s standing there, in the corner, turning back on her. She knows that he’s leaving her for South Africa, she knows that it will be another winter and fall without him. That’s the story of Malena and Klepetan, two storks that have been together for the last 15 years.

Malena on her nest waiting for his mate, Klepetan to return (Facebook/ Željko Mužević)

On the rooftop of the house in the small village of Slavonski, Croatia, lays the nest of a wounded female stork, Malena. Some 25 years ago, she was shot by hunters and could no longer fly. Stjepan Vokić, a former school janitor, the owner of the house, has been taking care of her ever since.

Vokić has been taking care of the couple for 15 years (Facebook/ Željko Mužević)

Their lives together were smooth and peaceful, until one day, a male stork landed on her nest and the two storks became a couple. Since then, fifty-nine young storks have set off into the world from their nest. Vokić has three sons, and he called Klepetan his fourth son.

Malena and Plekepant (Facebook/ Željko Mužević)

Each August every year, Klepetan travels 8,000 miles migrating to South Africa and will not return until spring. Malena is unable to join her mate since the injury, she mourns for him for ten days.

Vokić waits with Malena for Klepetan during the fall and winter months. Kelepetan’s journey home can be dangerous because of hunters and preaches, so the thought that he might not return scares Vokić more than anything.

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But for the past 15 years, Klepetan has never disappointed them. He returns when the weather is warm, looks for the fish bucket that Vokić leaves for him in a certain spot each year.

Every spring in Croatia, over a million people, watch a live stream, waiting for Klepetan to return. They have become Croatia’s most famous couple.

“There is a belief that storks bring children and new life. I don’t believe in fairy tales, but I do believe in goodness. I believe that nature remembers, and give goodness back to you.”, Vokić said.

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