Croatia showcases lovebird storks to draw visitors

Croatia showcases lovebird storks to draw visitors

Zagreb (AFP) - Croatia is trying to attract more visitors to its stunning Adriatic coast by showcasing the enduring love story of a male stork which has been flying thousands of miles every year to join his handicapped mate.

The male, named Klepetan by locals, flew over 13,000 kilometres this week to join Malena (or the 'Little One' in Croatian) from his winter home in South Africa, local media reported.

The Croatian Tourist Board this month posted a short animated film called 'True Love Always Returns in Spring' on its Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as on YouTube.

"Through this unique love story our goal was to draw tourists to Croatia as a destination where nice things happen," the tourist board's Ratomir Ivicic said in a statement on Saturday.

"I knew he would return. He never let Malena down," said Stjepan Vokic, who takes care of the female.

"Although some males tried to join her in the nest she was stubbornly chasing them away. She was waiting for her Klepetan and eventually welcomed him."

The retired primary school caretaker from a village in eastern Croatia, adopted Malena more than two decades ago after hunters broke her wing.

The stork couple has raised offspring every year and the baby birds are taught to fly by their father, before they all migrate to South Africa for the winter.

Malena stays in a Croatian village awaiting the return of her faithful partner.