A love story made the rounds of the Web in 2010, and it is worth retelling. Like all storks, Rodan and Malena had mated for life. In 1993 a hunter shot one of Malena’s wings. Thanks to the kind care of Stjepan Vokic of the village of Brodski Varos in Croatia, Malena survived. But with her injured wing, she could no longer
As winter approached Rodan left on the 13,000 kilometer flight to Cape Town in South Africa. Through their long separation, Vokic looked after Malena, hoping the spring migration would bring Rodan back to her.
When March came, Rodan arrived right on time, flying straight to the nest atop Stjepan Vokic’s home, the nest where Malena was awaiting his return. Over the summer they raised a family of chicks. Rodan was an attentive father, and when fall came he led the young birds south to Cape Town.
A piece in the March 25, 2010 online issue of Croatian Times said Rodan had returned 17 years in a row and the two had parented 32 chicks. Stjepan 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.
Waiting for him as she now has for 20 years. The latest update I could find was in Croatian, which Google Translate struggled with a bit. But the March 2013 article in 24 Sata said Rodan had arrived in the nest of his beloved Malena at 10 a.m. on Good Friday, faithful as always.
Their long and long-distance relationship gives me hope, not just because it is a touching story but because the two birds are a reminder of how much we can learn from our non-human relatives when we take the time to get to know them.
Dalje.com has the best photographs of the stork pair.