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? Our Detective Headquarters is open and staffed by our highly trained secret agents from 10am – 2pm on Saturdays. Want to help me crack the case but can’t make it on a Saturday? No problem, during the week, 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

June Case Debrief
Case:  Clue Spotter the Otter has heard rumors about a pair of bandit brothers at Zoo Atlanta. Legend has it they can disguise themselves like other animals, but Clue Spotter doesn’t think that sounds true. He has found some clues around the Zoo that should lead him to the identity of these masked makers of mischief. Can you help Clue Spotter uncover the truth?
Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Tanuki​ ​
  • Clue #1: Sabah the sun bear says she saw two fluffy raccoon-like tails scurrying away from the tortoise yards on Trader’s Alley! When she investigated, she found that the tortoises had been flipped onto their backs! Don’t worry, tortoises are able to flip themselves back over if they find themselves upside down.
  • Clue #2: Suhana, the clouded leopard, has noticed that the brothers slip into the kitchen for extra snacks at certain times of day and that they are omnivorous, meaning they will eat other animals and plants. After doing some research, Clue Spotter discovered that these animals are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during sunrise and sunset.
  • Clue #3:  Lun Lun the giant panda says she heard a growl coming from Idgie the red panda’s exhibit! The bandit brothers were trying to sneak up on their neighbor by climbing a tree that had fallen into her exhibit! They have curved claws and are one of the few canines that climb trees.
Put it all together: Through solving this mystery, you learned that while legend says these mysterious brothers are shape shifters, the legend isn’t true. You learned that these mischievous animals have big fluffy tails, look like raccoons, and are closely related to dogs. You learned that they are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at sunrise and sunset. They are also omnivores and eat a wide variety of food. Finally, you learned that these animals live in Asia and are quite the tree climbers. What kind of animal are these bandit brothers? They are tanuki, also known as raccoon dogs!

Great job, detectives! You all have helped me find these mysterious creatures! Now I can keep an eye on these masked makers of mischief for future shenanigans! 

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.