Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest


The East coast has Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day to let them know when they can expect spring. California has Mojave Maxine, the desert tortoise, to signify that warmer weather is on the way.

Mojave Maxine, a desert tortoise in our Desert Tortoise Habitat, has begun her annual brumation, which is the reptilian form of hibernation. Desert tortoises typically enter brumation around Thanksgiving. Brumation is how desert tortoises and other desert reptiles survive the cold winters – they sleep through them in their insulated, underground burrows.

While Maxine and her roomies are brumating, it’s the perfect time to learn about desert tortoises and enter the annual Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest. Students in grades K-12 throughout Southern California have the opportunity to predict when Maxine will rouse from her brumation and make her first appearance of 2022, letting us know that spring has arrived!

The first entry received from each county that is closest to the exact day and time of Mojave Maxine's first emergence will win t-shirts for their entire class* and a virtual visit from one of our desert tortoises and a biologist! *While supplies last.

The contest is currently open and will continue until Mojave Maxine emerges from her burrow.

Before picking the date and time you think Maxine will emerge – we suggest you learn more about desert tortoises, as it will help you make an even better prediction.

Good luck with your guess – and remember to always cover your trash, stay on designated trails, and please don’t touch or move wild desert tortoises!


Mojave Maxine Live Cam

  • Official Mojave Maxine Rules

    1. Eligibility for prizes offered by The Living Desert is restricted to students of grades K-12 enrolled in public, private or a registered home school, youth groups, scouts or scholastic organizations up to 36 students. Prizes are awarded to the first student to enter the closest time and date that Maxine emerges from her burrow for the first time each year. California’s Maxine resides at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. Prizes are awarded to Southern California students in the counties of: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura.

    2. Students must have the permission of their teacher(s) and parent(s) or guardian(s) to enter.

    3. Students must enter the contest on-line at Students are not required to own a computer. Students may enter from a public computer such as one at a school or public library, teachers or volunteers may assist.

    4. The entry form must be completely filled out online. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. No paper entries will be accepted.

    5. Students may enter the Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest only once a year. Only the first entry per student per year will be accepted.

    6. The Living Desert must be able to contact the student’s school or organization. The appropriate media release form must be completed for the student to be recognized as the winning entry. In the event, the first place winner in not eligible, an alternate will be chosen.

    7. The recognized winners will be notified through their school, principal, teacher or organization leader. GOOD LUCK

  • How to make a good guess

    Dear Students,

    My name is Mojave Maxine and I live in the desert tortoise habitat at The Living Desert. I’ve been living here since April of 1997, and I’m about 44 years old.

    Every fall, when I feel a chill in the air and I notice the days getting shorter, I go into my burrow and enter a state of sleep called brumation. Brumation is the reptile version of hibernation – it’s our long winter sleep. While in brumation, I avoid the cold winter temperatures and conserve my energy as I wait for spring to arrive.

    The Living Desert hosts a contest each year for students in Southern California to guess the date and time that I will emerge from my burrow for the first time in the spring.

    Last year, hundreds of students from all nine Southern California Counties entered the Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest to guess when I would make my first appearance. I hope that you will try to guess when I will emerge this year. The best way to make a good guess is to learn a bit about desert tortoises and by looking at my previous emergence dates (see table below).

    Good luck with your guess – and remember to always cover your trash, stay on designated trails, and please don’t touch or move wild desert tortoises!

    Stay Wild,

    Ms. Mojave Maxine

    2006 Februray 9 No time records before 2009
    2007 February 15 No time records before 2009
    2008 February 10 No time records before 2009
    2009 February 24 1:52 p.m.
    2010 February 13 2:30 p.m.
    2011 February 19 11:38 a.m.
    2012 February 25 11:33 a.m.
    2013 March 2 10:17 a.m.
    2014 February 17 11:53 a.m.
    2015 February 9 12:44 p.m.
    2016 February 8 11:56 a.m.
    2017 February 7 12:06 p.m.
    2018 January 31 12:28 p.m.
    2019 January 29 8:38 a.m.
    2020 January 23 Between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m
    2021 January 18 10:22 a.m.


I predict that Mojave Maxine will exit her burrow on*:
Verify that your entry is correct before pressing the Submit button. By submitting this entry, I agree to abide by the rules of the Mojave Maxine Contest. Enter only one time.

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