What to Know
The Living Desert in Palm Desert
Mojave Maxine is a famous desert tortoise
When her brumation ends, spring is said to be on the way
Animated films are fancifully full of animal friendships, the sort of unlikely but endearing pair-ups you'd only see in a colorful, whimsy-packed adventure on the silver screen.
And while no movie has yet captured the charming connection between groundhogs and desert tortoises, we're sure such a screenplay must be on the way, for clearly, at least in modern pop culture, both beasties have a knack for knowing how exactly spring will roll out, long before the equinox arrives.
The second day of February is, of course, an occasion that brings Punxsutawney Phil to mind, the adorable Pennsylvania groundhog that may or may not see his shadow, which determines how much winter is left.
And right around the same time of year? People are watching the burrow of Mojave Maxine. She's the desert tortoise that bids her cozy cold-weather brumation goodbye when spring is on approach. (Brumation being what cold-blooded animals do when they hibernate.)
And Maxine did just that, on Wednesday, Jan 31, at her home at Palm Desert's The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens animal park.
She trundled out at 12:28 p.m. on the final day of January 2018, an early annual appearance for the tortoise, at least compared to recent years, when Maxine ended her brumation around the start of the second week in February.
Schoolkids around the region were invited to guess the date of Mojave Maxine's appearance, a yearly contest, and The Living Desert posted that it will "... be contacting the winning students through their teachers in the coming weeks."
The post also suggested that "(s)weater season is over!"
No doubt, it is quite warm these days, and notably dry, and Mojave Maxine, being talented in the spring-prognosticating department, read the weather well.
But will Punxsutawney Phil feel a bit competitive knowing that his California counterpart has already said that spring in the Golden State desert is a go?
We'll have to see what the furry soothsayer reveals on the morning of Friday, Feb. 2.
For now, you can visit Mojave Maxine at The Living Desert, for the next several months, before she again returns to her burrow, and her annual brumation, when chilly temperatures return.