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

April Case Debrief
Case:  Scaly Slimy Spectacular is opening on April 2 and Detective Clue Spotter the Otter has spent a lot of time making friends with the reptiles and amphibians. Otters love to eat fish and Clue Spotter has found some clues around Scaly Slimy Spectacular that he believes will lead him to an animal that has a very unique way of catching the fish that it eats! Can you help Clue Spotter track down this mystery fisherman?
Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Alligator snapping turtle‚Äč
  • Clue #1: In the first clue box, you found a picture of a something covered in algae. Since these animals spend so much time underwater, they are often found with algae growing on their backs! You also found a picture of a swamp. This reptile resides in rivers, swamps, canals, and lakes that run into the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, you found a muddy mystery footprint!
  • Clue #2: In the second clue box, you found a representation of the mystery animal’s favorite snack - fish and snakes. You found a picture of a worm-like tongue that is used to lure prey into this reptile’s mouth. What a strange adaptation! You also saw a replica of its skull which has powerful jaws, giving it the snapping part of its name. 
  • Clue #3: In the last clue box, you saw turtle shells from the mystery animal’s close relatives. You learned that this reptile is the largest of its species, weighing about 150 pounds and growing up to 2 feet long. You also saw a picture of the mystery animal’s shell (the real thing is too big to fit in a clue box)!
Put it all together: You learned that this animal spends most of its life underwater. You also learned that the mystery reptile’s cousin is an Aldabra tortoise. Finally, you learned that the mystery reptile has a spiky shell and tail. Putting all of this together, the mystery reptile is an alligator snapping turtle! 

Great job, detectives! You all have helped me find the mystery fish-catching expert!

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.