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

March Case Debrief
Case: In March we are celebrating a special bird…the kori bustard! Kori bustards are a very unique bird species. Clue Spotter knows they are famous for being a large bird with a special ability. Can you help Clue Spotter investigate and find out what special ability kori bustards have? 

Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Flight/flying
  • Clue #1:  Kori bustards are native to eastern and southern Africa and live in the tall, grassy savanna. In this habitat, they have natural predators that hunt them. The first clue was at the lion habitat, and you found a lion skull and photos of kori bustards’ other predators like jackals, hyenas, leopards, and caracals. This mystery ability helps them to escape from predators.
  • Clue #2: The next clue was in The Living Treehouse, where you found kori bustard feathers. All birds have wings, feathers, beaks (no teeth), and lay eggs. Kori bustards use feathers for the mystery ability.
    While kori bustards use their feathers for the mystery special ability, people like to use their feathers to make fishing lures. Zoo Atlanta and other zoos around the country collect feathers that are naturally molted (they fall off) from kori bustards and send them to FeathersMc, a project that re-distributes the feathers to the fly fishing community and raises awareness about kori bustards. By visiting the Zoo, you are helping support this project and helping to save kori bustards in the wild. To learn more about the project or donate, visit
  • Clue #3: The final clue was at the Sun Bear and Tiger Terrace. There were photos of other birds that don’t have this special ability. Clue Spotter heard an Exhibit Interpreter (Zoo staff that teach people about animals) telling visitors that male kori bustards are the heaviest birds capable of ________! This is the mystery ability! 
    Kori bustards are large birds, with males weighing up to 40 pounds! That’s the same weight as five gallons of water.
    Some birds don’t have this ability, including the ostrich, kiwi, cassowary, emu and penguin.
Put it all together:
We found out that this special ability helps kori bustards escape from predators, that they use their feathers, and that certain birds like ostriches, kiwis, emus, cassowaries, and penguins can’t do it….which must mean that kori bustards are the heaviest birds capable of flight! Flying is the special mystery ability.

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.