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

November Case Debrief 
Case:  If there’s anyone who knows how to have a fun game night, it’s Clue Spotter the Otter! Our furry detective has invited some friends over to play a few games to celebrate Lemur Day on November 5. His guests have a unique island in common. Can you help Clue Spotter figure out what island these animals have in common?

Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: All of the animals can be found on the island of Madagascar.

Clue 1: In the first clue box, we found the shell of a radiated tortoise, a picture of the radiated tortoise, and a picture of opuntia cactus. The radiated tortoise is the only game night guest that lives in places other than the mystery island. This is rare because over 90% of animals on this island cannot be found anywhere else in the wild.

  • Radiated tortoises are considered critically endangered.
  • Many people want to have radiated tortoises as pets because their shells are so beautiful.
  • Like other members of the turtle family, a radiated tortoise can feel when it is being touched on its shell.
  • As an herbivore, the radiated tortoise likes to eat plants, even cactus!

Clue 2:  In the second clue box, we learned that the mystery island is the fourth largest island in the world. Ringtailed lemurs are native to this island. The clue box also showed us a lemur footprint, map of the world, a lemur picture, and a tooth comb picture. The logo for MFG, an organization that helps lemurs and other animals and plants on the island, was also shown. 

  • This year for Lemur Day we’re raising money for the Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group. They help all the animals on this unique island!
  • Ringtailed lemurs are herbivores, and they eat more than 50 different kinds of plants.
  • Because they are losing their habitat, ringtailed lemurs are considered endangered.
  • Ringtailed lemurs use special teeth called a dental comb to groom their fur.

Clue 3: The last and final guest to game night was Logan the fossa. The clue box contained a fossa skull, pictures of fossa, and pictures of a civet and mongoose. Logan told Clue Spotter that the island is a well-known biodiversity hotspot that is being threatened by deforestation and other human activities, like other parts of Africa. The long, hook-like hands and feet are an adaptation for brachiation. Brachiation is a type of locomotion through the trees.

  • Fossas are the largest carnivores on this unique island and their favorite prey is lemur.
  • Fossas are cathemeral, which means they are active during the day and night.
  • Fossas are extremely good at climbing trees due to their long tails and large paws.
  • Though related to civets and mongooses, fossas are as unique as their island! 

Put it all together
We learned that radiated tortoises, lemurs, and fossas live on the mystery island. It is the only place where lemurs and fossas can be found in the wild. In fact, 90% of the animals and plants are unique to this island. This island is the fourth largest island in the world and is considered part of Africa. This biodiversity hotspot is threatened by deforestation and other human activities. When we put all the clues together, we discover that the three game night guests can all be found on the island of Madagascar! 

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.