Zoo's Clues

The Detective Headquarters is open on Saturday, 10am - 2pm
weather dependent

You can print out your clue sheet or take one from the mailbox at Detective Headquarters at the zoo any time!

If you have questions or would like to submit your own mystery, e-mail us at


Super Sleuths Wanted
Greetings Detectives,

My name is Detective Clue Spotter the Otter, and I need YOUR help solving monthly mysteries! Study the evidence, engage in the suspense, observe the clues, and use your detective skills to unravel the mystery, all while learning about our natural world.

Are you ready to get started? Zoo’s Clues is a self-guided activity! All of the confidential materials you need are in the brown mailbox at our Detective Headquarters, located across from the elephant exhibit.

You can print out this month’s clue sheet (file on the right) from home if you want to get a head start!

At the end of the month we’ll post the case debrief below so you can learn even more information about the mysteries we’ve solved together.

Your pal,
Clue Spotter the Otter

Closed Cases

July Case Debrief
Case: A mysterious creature has been patrolling the Zoo at night, and it’s up to Clue Spotter to find out which one. Can you use your five senses to help Clue Spotter identify this mystery animal? Hurry! This mystery needs to be solved before July 30!

Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Sumatran Tiger

Clue #1: In this clue box we found a can with the scent of men’s cologne and some items that felt like the animal’s tongue. We also learned that the mystery animal is a carnivore and likes the scent of men’s cologne.

  • This animal’s tongue is covered in small barbs called papillae. It feels like sandpaper or Velcro!
  • Instead of just smelling with its nose, this animal also uses an organ in the roof of its mouth.
  • As a carnivore, this animal likes to eat meat.
  • These animals put smells in their environment by scratching or scent marking.

Clue #2: We found out these animals walk quietly and roar. We also heard this roar and saw the animal’s ears.

  • This type of animal has an excellent sense of hearing and uses it to help with hunting.
  • This animal’s ears can turn independently to help it hear well.
  • These animals do more than roar. They also growl and chuff.

Clue #3: We learned that this animal is a nocturnal hunter and can see very well in the dark. We also saw the animal’s eye and paw print.  

  • This animal hunts in the jungles of Sumatra, an island in Indonesia.
  • You can help protect this animal’s habitat by choosing products with sustainable palm oil.
  • This animal’s vision is six times more powerful at night.
  • This animal can see in color.
  • These animals use their paws to be good swimmers.

Put it all together
This animal is a carnivore with a rough tongue, has good night vision, and can roar. This animal is also from the island of Sumatra. All the clues made us think it was a cat, and we decided that it was the Sumatran tiger. We celebrated these tigers on World Tiger Day on July 30!

Great job, detectives!

Your pal,

Clue Spotter the Otter

Skills you need to be a good Zoo detective:

  • The ability to observe. You should really take a good look at the clues provided. Look at clues from several angles and make note of any details on or about the clue. What is the clue or where did it come from? How does is fit with your knowledge and with the other clues provided? Every part of the clue will help you get one step closer to cracking the case.
  • Good memory. You should try to remember all clues provided and details of each to piece together an answer. Cross check each clue and then think how that might fit with your knowledge of animals.
  • Awareness of animal behavior, physical characteristics, and abilities is important. In order to solve some of our mysteries, you are going to need to know a little bit about animals. What do animals look like and what are their characteristics? Where do they live, what do they eat, (and what does their poop look like!), what are some of their behaviors, and what might be an animal’s motive for committing the crime?
  • Detectives are helpful, too. Not only do Zoo detectives want to help Detective Otter figure out “whodunit” but they are generally helpful to their neighbors, friends and to nature.