Zoo’s Clues

Help Detective Clue Spotter the Otter crack the case with monthly mysteries geared toward 6 to 12-year-olds.

Available daily.
Staffed Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Free
Ideal for ages 6 to 12

  • Only staffed on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (weather dependent) or available on a self-guided basis anytime.
  • Prizes can only be picked up when staffed or by contacting cluespotter@zooatlanta.org.
  • Supplies are available at Detective Headquarters for self-guided spotters.

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 available right here, or in the brown mailbox at our Detective Headquarters, located across from the elephant habitat.

Zoo’s Clues Online

Printable Clue Sheet (PDF)

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

Skills you need to be a good Zoo detective

  • The ability to observe. You should take a good look at the clues provided. Look at clues from several angles, and make a 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. 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.

You can print out your clue sheet or take one from the mailbox at Detective Headquarters at the Zoo anytime!

Closed cases

October Case Debrief
Case: Can you figure out who our mystery friend is?

Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Malayan sun bear

Clue 1: What a peculiar paw print, and it is rather small compared to this other animal who is a distant cousin.

  • Our mystery animal is the smallest of the world’s eight bear This animal is found in Malaysia and is called basindo nan tenggil, which means “he who likes to sit high.” It lives up to this reputation by making its home in branches of trees.
  • Whoa! Those are some very long claws and that tongue! Our mystery animal has the longest tongue out of all in the bear family. Those claws can be as long as four inches in length!
  • Those long claws and tongue help them forage for their food. They enjoy honey, oil palm, insects, and other small creatures inside logs. This type of diet makes this animal an omnivore, meaning they eat plants and animals.

Clue 2: I wonder what this clue means? It is in the shape of the moon! This is because our mystery animal has a crescent shaped patched on its chest. Look also at this skull! Those are some serious canines!

  • Our mystery animal’s common name come from their white or yellowish crescent marking on its chest, which many people think looks like the rising or setting sun. Each of the crest markings are individual – like fingerprints.
  • Their coats are short to avoid overheating in tropical weather but are also coarse and thick to provide protection from rain and branches.
  • Their teeth are flatter when compared to other species of bear; however, those canines are long enough to stick out between their lips. Those teeth combined with their strong jaws help our mystery animal have a bite force strong enough to open coconuts!

Clue 3: We have finally reached our final clue. After eating more candy, Clue Spotter has finally found the other half to his invitation! He has noticed a pattern; all the candy wrappers have an RSPO label. This lets us know that these treats use sustainable palm oil.

  • Sadly, this mystery animal is a species vulnerable to extinction, which means their population is decreasing. It is unknown how many are left in the wild, since their secretive nature makes them hard to find.
  • Wild populations are believed to be dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss from farming and logging, poaching and even the pet trade. Its appetite for coconuts, oil palms and other commercial crops has led to a lot of conflict between our mystery animal and humans, but we can help!
  • Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is an ingredient in many foods and products that we use every day, including candy.
  • You can help this mystery animal and their friends in the region by downloading the Shop Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide, an app created by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Join us on October 21, 22, 28 or 29 for Boo at the Zoo and you can trick-or-treat for candy that uses animal-friendly sustainable palm oil!

Put it all together

Our first clue had a ripped invitation and a candy wrapper. We found our mystery animal is the smallest of the world’s eight species of bears. This animal is found in Malaysia and called “basindo nan tenggil”, meaning he who likes to sit high. We saw photos of some very long claws and a long tongue! We learned that our mystery animal has the longest tongue out of all in the bear family. Their claws can be up to four inches in length and are used to help them forage for food. We learned they enjoy honey, oil palm, insects and other small creatures inside logs. These findings lead us to discover that our mystery animal is an omnivore, meaning they eat plants and animals.

The next clue we discovered was the shape like the crescent moon. We learned our mystery animal’s common name comes from the fact that it has a white and/or yellowish crescent marking on its chest. Many people think that this marking looks like the rising or setting sun. Each crest marking on our mystery animal is unique like fingerprints. We learned that our mystery animal lives in the warm tropics so their coats are short to avoid overheating. Their coats are thick and coarse to provide protection from rain and branches. When looking at their skull, we noticed that their teeth are flatter when compared to other species of bears. However, they have long canines that stick out between their lips. Although our mystery animal may be the smallest of its species, we learned that those teeth and strong jaw muscles help them have a bite force strong enough to open coconuts.

Our final clue leads us to the other half of the invitation! Clue Spotter noticed that all the candy wrappers he found along the trail have an RSPO label on them. We learned that this label is important because it lets us know that a company is using sustainable palm oil. Our mystery animal is a species vulnerable to extinction, which means their population is decreasing. It is unknown how many are left in the wild, since their secretive nature makes them hard to find. We learned that wild populations are dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss from farming, logging, poaching, and even the pet trade. We learned that palm oil is a vegetable oil that is an ingredient in many foods and products that we use every day, including candy. We learned that we can help our mystery animal and their friends in the region by downloading Shop Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide, an app created by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. When we put the other half of the invitation together we learned our mystery animal is the Malayan sun bear.

Great Job, Detectives!

Your pal,

Clue Spotter the Otter

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl