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

July Case Debrief
Case: There is a special birthday this month! Clue Spotter the Otter wants to get the perfect present, but he isn’t sure whose birthday it is. Can you help Clue Spotter find out who is having a birthday this month in time to get a gift? 
Status: Mystery solved
Answer: Panda cubs
  • Clue #1: You were told the first clue was located inside the Ford Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center. The clue was found with a paw print cast and a photo of a paw indicating close detail of the “pseudothumb.” The size of the paw print cast concludes the animal is not fully grown, while the pseudothumb suggests the animal uses its extra digit to grasp food in order to eat. The sharp claws shown on both the photo and the cast let you know the animal climbs trees, narrowing down our suspect to a forest dwelling animal. 
  • Clue #2: You could find the second clue at Sun Bear and Tiger Terrace. Inside this clue box can be found a sample of fur. From the fur, you can conclude the mystery birthday animal must be a mammal. The supporting evidence posted in the clue box let you know there was something special about the coloration pattern found on this mammal. The alternating black and white colors suggest that this animal uses its fur as some sort of camouflage in a snowy environment. Clue Spotter the Otter determined the birthday animal must live in a snowy forest.  
  • Clue #3: The last clue, you were told, could be found in the golden lion tamarin exhibit near the petting zoo. From the previous clues, Clue Spotter determined the animal lives in a cold and snowy forest. This kind of habitat is perfect for bamboo and can be found in the mountainous range of Asia. Clue Spotter has decided he’ll wrap some bamboo for the birthday gift, but couldn’t figure out why all the other animals at the Zoo were wrapping up two presents. There must be two birthday animals this month, suggesting a set of twins! 
  • Put it all together: Who could be having a birthday this month? What mammal at the Zoo has black and white fur, climbs trees, and loves to eat bamboo? Out of all the young mammals that can be found, it has to be the giant panda cubs. Their birthday is July 15! 
Great job, detectives! All of the animals at the Zoo will be celebrating Mei Lun and Mei Huan’s first birthday this month. Thanks for all of your help! 
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.