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Mojave Maxine has emerged, signaling an early spring


1,800+ students took part in the guessing contest

An enormous reptile in charge of Southern California's climate has emerged from her slumber. Mojave Maxine, the prized 40-year-old desert tortoise of The Living Desert, wrapped up her brumation (reptilian hibernation) on January 31, at 12:28 p.m., start of spring in the Coachella Valley.

“It has been unseasonably warm this year and our desert animals tell time by the weather, not the calendar,” said Sarah Greely, Desert Tortoise Conservation Coordinator at The Living Desert. “Typically Maxine emerges in February, and her January debut means we could be in for a warm year.” 

With a weekly forecast jam-packed with highs in the 80s this week, it looks like Maxine nailed her prediction this year. 

Each year, students all around the region take part in a contest to properly guess when Maxine will emerge. This season, over 1,800 students from Riverside, Inyo, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Kern counties took part in the contest of cold-blooded clairvoyance. 

“The number of entries in our contest continues to grow and this year we saw an increase of over 400 participants,” said Greely. “It’s exciting to see more and more children interested in conservation and learning about our native desert tortoises through Mojave Maxine.” 

The first entry from each county with an exact date and time closest to Maxine's real-time emergence is awarded a $50 gift certificate, a 100 gift-certificate for their teacher, a Federal Lands Pass, a visit from a desert tortoise, and Mojave Maxine t-shirts for their entire class. 

Last year, Maxine waited all the way until February 7th to come out from her burrow. 

Sam Benson Smith

Sam Benson Smith is the Digital Content Director for Gulf California Broadcasting. Learn more about Sam here.


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