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.

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 near the southern ground hornbill 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: October is Clue Spotter’s favorite month of the year. The leaves are changing, the temperature is cooling, and it’s almost his favorite holiday – Halloween! While setting up some decorations in his yard, Clue Spotter found traces of native wildlife and wants to make sure he’s helping to keep their habitat healthy. Can you follow the clues to determine what kind of animal is living in Clue Spotter’s yard?

Putting the clues together:

At the first clue box, we found some type of box-like house. That must be a place for our mystery animal to take shelter. Speaking of where it lives, we learned that our mystery animal is native to Georgia – just like the reptiles and amphibians you see at Georgia eXtremes. In fact, Georgia is home to 16 of the over 1,000 species of our mystery animal. We also learned that this animal is typically nocturnal, which explains why Clue Spotter didn’t see it during the day. Additionally, we found out that most species of our mystery animal rest in large social groups in caves, trees or man-made structures. Clue Spotter discovered that he could build a house to provide additional safe habitat for our mystery animal. He even built a miniature version so we could see what it looks like!

In the second clue box, we found native seed packets, pictures of fruit and plastic insects. We figured out that most species of our mystery animal eat insects and are great at controlling pests that might harm crops or spread disease. Some eat fruit and disperse its seeds, helping restore damaged habitats. Other species consume nectar and pollinate plants that grow fruit like bananas, peaches and avocados. We also learned that our mystery animal is essential to the health of its ecosystem, making it a keystone species. We discovered that growing native plants in our yard will keep these animals coming back for yummy insects. Unfortunately, the country with the most species of our mystery animal, Indonesia, also has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. We learned that we can help species of our mystery animal in Indonesia by using an app to find products with sustainable palm oil that doesn’t damage animal habitats.

At the third and final clue box, we discovered a skeleton of our mystery animal and felt a silhouette of its body. We learned that our mystery animal is unique among mammals in that it is capable of true flight. Our mystery animals’ wings are made of a thin but strong membrane of velvety skin spread across their finger bones. Their taxonomic order was named after this feature – Chiroptera means “hand wing.” Finally, we found out that, unlike birds, our mystery animal’s wings are covered in sensitive bumps with a tiny hair in the center. This helps it adjust its wing shape to fly more efficiently. Its wings also have lots of blood vessels and can heal quickly after injury.

Once we put all these clues together, we now know that the mystery animal is a bat!

Status: Mystery Solved!

Answer: Bats

Great job, Detectives!

Your pal,
Clue Spotter the Otter

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