A 42-year-old desert tortoise celebrated for her season-changing perception is likely to soon emerge from her winter’s nap at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, and students from schools throughout the region Monday were invited to submit their predictions on when that might happen.

“Mojave Maxine is a great ambassador for The Living Desert, and each year she helps educate countless people as to the peril of the threatened desert tortoise,” said James Danoff-Burg, director of conservation for the zoo. “This annual contest is a fun way to get students involved, and it gives them the opportunity to learn how to help protect this species.”

Last winter, Maxine poked her head out of her burrow on the morning of Jan. 29.

According to the zoo, she went underground to begin her “brumation” — hibernation for reptiles — this season the week of Thanksgiving.

“Tortoises’ bodies know when to go to sleep based on the outside temperatures and the change in daylight hours,” according to a zoo statement.

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade from Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial and six other Southern California counties are welcome to submit entries on when they believe Maxine will make her 2020 debut.

Anyone guessing the exact date and time correctly will receive a $50 gift certificate and a classroom visit by Maxine and her handlers, according to the zoo. The teacher in the winning class will additionally receive a $100 gift certificate and “Mojave Maxine” T-shirts to distribute to students.

A live video feed will soon be available, streaming images of Maxine’s burrow.

Students’ entries are being accepted via livingdesert.org/mojave-maxine.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *