Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest

The 2023/2024 contest has closed. The 2024/2025 contest will begin on November 1, 2024.

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.

Who is Mojave Maxine?

Mojave Maxine is a desert tortoise that lives at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. Maxine and her tortoise roommates 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. 

2024 Winners

The Living Desert is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest.

Congratulations to the following schools:

  • Riverside County: Louis Vandermolen Elementary
  • San Bernardino County: Yucca Mesa Elementary
  • Imperial County: Sea View Elementary

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the official Mojave Maxine rules?

1. Eligibility for prizes is restricted to students of grades K-12 enrolled in a public, private, or registered home school, youth group, scout troop or scholastic organization with a class size of up to 36 students. Prizes are awarded to the first student to enter the closest date and time to when Maxine emerges from her burrow for the first time in the spring. Winners must be Southern California students in the counties of: San Bernardino, Imperial, and Riverside. One prize per county will be awarded.  

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

3. Students must enter the contest online 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. The online entry form must be completely filled out. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. Teachers, parents, guardians, or volunteers may assist. Paper entries are not accepted. 

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

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

6. In the event that the first place winner is not eligible, an alternate will be chosen. 

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 45 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 Southern California 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 look at my previous emergence dates in the 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, 

Mojave Maxine 

2006February 9No time records before 2009
2007February 15No time records before 2009
2008February 10No time records before 2009
2009February 241:52 p.m.
2010February 132:30 p.m.
2011February 1911:38 a.m.
2012February 2511:33 a.m.
2013March 210:17 a.m.
2014February 1711:53 a.m.
2015February 912:44 p.m.
2016February 811:56 a.m.
2017February 712:06 p.m.
2018January 3112:28 p.m.
2019January 298:38 a.m.
2020January 23Between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m
2021January 1810:22 a.m.
2022February 83:11 p.m.
2023February 910:30 a.m.
2024January 3010:10 a.m.

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