The love story of stork “Rodan” and his female partner “Malena” in Brodski Varos in eastern Croatia is the most popular and beloved in their area.
The stork Rodan has once again been reunited with his true love Malena after a 13,000km (8,000-mile) journey. For the fifth year in a row, the faithful bird has flown back to the same rooftop in east Croatia to see his partner Malena, who cannot fly owing to an injured wing.
He spends his winters alone in South Africa because poor Malena cannot fly after being shot. But every spring Rodan returns, presumably telling his wingmen before they land: “What happens in Cape Town stays in Cape Town.”
He keeps a very strict timetable, usually arriving back at the same time on the same day in March to be welcomed by locals. But this year he was in such a hurry to see Malena that he was two hours early.
Every summer, the love birds bring up chicks, with Rodan leading their flying lessons in preparation for the trip south in summer.
Stjepan Vokic, whose roof the couple nest on, has taken care of Malena since she was first injured by hunters in 1993. He said: “Every year, I worry that Rodan will not return safely to his Malena. I know many other storks return a few days later, but he knows he needs to return home because Malena is waiting for him.”