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Their love is unbreakable, and their story one of the most touching examples of animal commitment in the world. Malena and Klepetan, two storks from Croatian town of Slavonski Brod, became the symbol of marital happiness and mutual care. Every year, thousands of people eagerly wait for birds to meet, and once again remind us that true love and beauty still exist.

Croatian storks have a habit of nesting on people’s chimneys. In most cases, people let them do so, as in the case of a romantic village of Cigoc. These animals have a rather unique lifestyle. Every winter, they leave Croatia for distant Africa and its warmer weather. The urge to make this huge trip is fascinating, as well as the animal’s sense of navigation. When the spring comes, the animals can return to exactly the same space in Croatia which they have left.

But several decades ago, a poacher’s gunshot has wounded Malena, a young female stork which was unable to fly since then.  She could not leave for Africa, and had to endure winter in Croatia. On the other hand, her mate Klepetan can’t resist the nature’s call for migration, and annually goes on a long journey, only to return to Malena in spring.

It might sound rough from human perspective, but as experts agree, the birds can’t ignore their need for this travel. The fact that Klepetan leaves doesn’t mean he dislikes Malena. The fact that he returns every year back to her, proves that his love is genuine and real.

Although Malena misses Klepetan during long winter months, she is not alone. A local called Stjepan Vokic has promised to keep her safe, and has served as her guardian for the last two decades.  Every year, he would anxiously expect Klepetan’s return, hoping that the bird succeed in avoiding the perils of such a long trip.

Today at 5:00 a.m. Klepetan returned for the twelfth time in a row. The date corresponds with the last year’s arrival. Hungry and tired, but with much love in his eyes, he greeted the welcoming Malena. This love game usually means another round of chicks is to be expected later in the year. With Stjepan’s help, the pair raised over 40 small birds so far.

But even this love story has a grim side. Stjepan came to age in which he can’t help storks as much as he used to. He also confirmed that a lot of surrounding swamp areas have dried up, leaving Klepetan and Malena without sufficient amount of food. Stjepan also worries that starvation could hit the upcoming chicks as well.

While Croatian institutions and World Wildlife Fund promised their assistance, the fate of these animals hugely depends on people’s donations. You can give your share to the cause by spending a few coins on the following giro-account number: 2340009-3103869346 (check with your bank service for information about international donating).

With your help, the storks won’t have to worry about the upcoming months.  They will be happy and fulfilled, just as in the photo gallery below (the photos were taken today):

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