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

March Case Debrief
Case: Clue Spotter the Otter is hosting the Zoo’s 125th birthday party! He wants to invite two special guests to help celebrate the history of Zoo Atlanta. Can you figure out who the mystery animals are and help Clue Spotter deliver the invitation?
Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Kelly and Tara, African elephants. 
Clue #1: You were told to look for the first clue at Complex Carnivores. You found a large molar and historical pictures of Zoo Atlanta. You learned that the mystery animals go through six sets of molars throughout their lives and that the shape of these molars assists with their herbivorous diet. You also learned just how important the mystery animal was to the Atlanta community in 1890. The Atlanta Constitution began a fundraiser known as the “penny campaign” where children collected pennies to help acquire the animal! 
Clue #2: For the second clue you were told to investigate inside The Living Treehouse. You found a footprint and handprint made by ring-tailed lemurs. You learned that lemurs are arboreal. The mystery guests are terrestrial animals that basically stand on their tiptoes, known as digitigrade, with five splayed (spread apart) toes that are inside of their feet. You also learned that the mystery guests travel in matriarchal groups, meaning groups of three to 25 females that are led by the oldest female. 
Clue #3: For the last clue, you were told to look inside the World of Reptiles where you found a frog skull and information about the Panamanian golden frog. You learned that the Panamanian golden frog is listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss, and that its range is in South America. While the mystery animal lives on the African savannas, it is also listed vulnerable due to poaching and habitat loss. Here you also learned how you can help animals in the wild by supporting organizations that create wildlife sanctuaries and by planting trees in your own back yard. 
Great job, detectives! You figured out who my special guests were and delivered the invitation! This is sure to be a great birthday bash for Zoo Atlanta! 
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.