Punxsutawney Phil-Schmil – We’ve Got Our Own Groundhog

A 44-year-old desert tortoise, a resident at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert is the unofficial “groundhog” for the California Deserts, including the high desert areas of the Owens Valley.

“Mojave Maxine” starts her hibernation each Winter around Thanksgiving. When Maxine wakes up and emerges from her burrow, Winter is unofficially over and Spring is beginning to be sprung. No shadow mumbo jumbo is needed.

Mojave Maxine emerged on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 3:11 PM, wrapping up the contest for another year. With Owens Valley temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s for this week, Maxine is not far off, even though the Spring equinox is still six weeks away.

In 2021, Maxine emerged earlier than normal, on January 18th, and the Spring and Summer turned out to be record-setting hot and dry.

Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation for the Zoo noted, “Maxine is an indicator for wild tortoise behaviors as well, so we are glad to see her emerge at a more reasonable time this year.”