Spring-Seeking Eyes Are on This Desert Tortoise's Burrow

Mojave Maxine, The Living Desert's own shell-rocking superstar, will emerge from her brumation in a few weeks time. But when, exactly?

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

THE END OF THE YEAR? The change-over between two calendars can be, for many of us, a time of bold predictions. We make outlandish guesses, and we ask about our friends' predictions, and we second-guess the predictions we've already made once we learn what our pals are thinking. But for many schoolchildren around the desert resort cities and beyond, the coming of January is all about trying to land upon the exact date when a famous Palm Desert denizen will step out into the sunshine after a long and lovely... brumation.

THAT IS A MAJOR CLUE, of course, about what resident we're talking about. It's Mojave Maxine, the world-famous desert tortoise, and she is currently enjoying her annual brumation at The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. Brumation is how a cold-blooded critter hibernates, and as 2021 arrives Mojave Maxine is savoring a delightful period of dormancy. But K-12 students are not observing dormancy when it comes to entering their guesses about when exactly she'll leave her burrow, for if they're the winner in their Southern California county, they "... will receive gift certificates for themselves and their teachers, t-shirts for their entire class, and a visit from a live desert tortoise!"

AS FOR WHAT EXACTLY... it means when the beautiful desert tortoise finally leaves her cozy space? You got it: That springtime in the arid clime is on the way. You can read all of the rules on this page, and learn more about Miss Maxine, a 43-year-old critter that is sometimes thought of as the Punxsutawney Phil of the California desert. Though one might say that the sweet Pennsylvania groundhog could be also called the desert tortoise of Punxsutawney? We won't pit these two titans of spring-predicting against each other or think of them as competitors, for when we love animals, nature, and the seasons, we all win. Oh yes: And you can find Mojave Maxine's past emergence dates under the section called "How to Make a Good Guess." She has emerged from her burrow, by the by, in late January in recent years. What's her grand plan for 2021? Stay tuned...

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