Again I am joined by first and second graders at the Lilja Elementary School, in bringing you paintings and tales of real individual animals. The tale I bring you this week is of an enduring bond between two storks. The kids bring you an array of stories and some exquisite paintings. Enjoy them.
A Stork Returns by Julia, age 51
In 1993, a female white stork was shot through the wing by an Italian hunter in Brodski Varos, Croatia. She was no longer able to fly. This meant she could not undertake the fall migration to her wintering grounds in South Africa, some 8000 miles away. A retired school janitor, Stjepan Vokic took pity on her and adopted her. He cared for her and fed her through the winter months. He had been doing this for 7 years when, one spring, Malena met a mate. Stjepan named him Rodan.
Rodan and Malena courted, built a nest on an old building behind the primary school in Brodski Varos, and had chicks. Since Malena could not fly Rodan taught the fledglings to fly. In the fall they migrated back to Rodan's wintering grounds in Cape Town, South Africa. Malena stayed behind where Stjepan kept up her care. The next year Rodan returned again close to the same day he had first appeared. They courted and had another brood of chicks which also fledged and returned to Cape Town in the fall with Rodan.
As of 2017 Rodan has returned to Malena for 15 consecutive years now. Rodan and Malena have raised over 59 chicks together. There are eggs in the nest being brooded again. Rodan has returned to Malena on almost the exact same day each spring. This year he was three weeks late, the latest he has ever been. He returned on April 13th at 3:00 pm.
Every one was nervous that Rodan had died on his journey back to Malena. He must fly over Syria and Lebanon on his return, through droughts and war zones. I am happy to report he has made it again. One year soon this beautiful story will come to an end but for now we can be happy that they have reunited once again and that there are fresh eggs in the nest.
Macaque and Pigeon by Marley, age 8
This painting is about an abandoned baby macaque that was nursed back to health at an animal rescue center in China. Once it was healthy again it was still sad. It did not show the usual playfulness of the species until it met a pigeon and it gave it a hug. I chose this story because I like to think of these two animals as me and my best friend, Imogen.
The Wheelchair by Ruby, age 7
I chose Hero the dog because he saved a paralyzed man from his wheelchair that got stuck in a field of mud. I chose him also because he saved a person's life and that is really important to me. And I also love dogs!
Poor Dog, by Danny, age 7
This dog had no blanket, no toys, no comfort, not even a bowl. She had nothing and when some people got help she couldn't even walk. They rescued her. She got her fur shaved off, she got a bath and she did not like it. But she did like when people touched her. It was her first night in a warm, safe place. I think she was a really nice dog. She didn't bite or anything, even though she had been in the wild with nothing.
Moon Cat by Corinne, age 6
This cat saved her kittens from a fire, but she didn't get away soon enough. She got severely burned. She was called the Cat Who Faced Fire. Her name was Scarlet. I chose this animal because she passed away in 2008. Even though she didn't get away unharmed, she saved her young kittens and didn't leave them behind.
Special Friendship of a Dog and a Wild Fox, by Olivia, age 7
Tinny the dog and Sniffer the fox are surprisingly very good friends. They run, and play, and frolic together. You would actually think that a fox and dog would not even like each other, let alone be friends with each other! People have tried to hunt foxes for their fur, but now we are trying not to.
Scarlet by Luke, age 7
Scarlet, the mom cat, risked her life to save her kittens from a fire. The kittens went to a shelter. She died on October 11, 2008. The owner, Karen, told how the cat walked five times through the flames to rescue each of her kittens. The cat, Scarlet, lived in America. The fire was in the garage and she got severely burned. I think she was really brave to risk her life for her kittens.