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

September Case Debrief
Case:  Clue Spotter the Otter is planning a trip to China with his good friend, Idgie. They are both very eager to investigate and explore an exciting new place. They are planning to visit a local market to shop for souvenirs, trinkets and Idgie’s favorite locally-grown snack. Since Idgie knows that Clue Spotter is a great detective, she has left clues about what food they are shopping for all around China for him. Can you help Clue Spotter figure out what is Idgie’s favorite snack?
Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Bamboo
  • Clue #1: While in Hong Kong, Idgie the red panda leaves Clue Spotter a map of where her wild relatives live. The map shows the countries of Bhutan, Nepal, India, Myanmar and China. Her favorite snack comes from this part of the world, but you can also find it right in our backyards in Georgia! You also found some red panda fur in this box! Their red fur provides camouflage against the reddish-brown moss that grows in their habitat.
  • Clue #2:  Idgie left wet footprints all around the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding when she visited her friends, Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po. She has a special wrist bone called a pseudothumb that helps her grip her favorite food. Idgie has impressive teeth and a very strong jaw to chew her favorite snack. 
  • Clue #3: Idgie leaves tree branches at the Great Wall of China because her favorite snack is a plant. This mystery plant is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and is actually a type of grass. It is stronger than wood, bricks, and even concrete, with strength that can even compare to steel! That’s one really strong plant! Almost 200 species of this plant grow right here in Georgia.
Put it all together:
After traveling to China, you and Clue Spotter find the clues Idgie left. In the first clue box, you find a map of Asia showing the countries where red pandas live. In the second clue box, you discover Idgie’s pseudothumb that helps her hold her food. In the third clue box, you find out that Idgie’s favorite snack is a plant. So the answer is a plant that grows in Asia, is able to fit into a red panda’s paw, and also grows in Georgia. You are so smart; you know the answer is bamboo!

Excellent job, detectives! You helped me figure out Idgie’s favorite snack is bamboo. Keep up the great work!

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.