Help Detective Clue Spotter the Otter crack the case with monthly mysteries geared toward 6 to 12-year-olds.
Staffed Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Supplies are available at Detective Headquarters for self-guided spotters.
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.
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.
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!
February Case Debrief
Case: Clue Spotter is hosting a party for all his friends for Valentine’s Day, but one of his guests is running late. They seem to be slow in arriving to all their destinations, in fact. Can you solve the mystery and help Clue Spotter seek out his tardy friend?
Putting the clues together:
Upon visiting the first clue box, we found a picture of a tropical forest, along with some leaves. We discovered that our mystery animal lives in the tropical forests of lower Central America, across Panama, northwestern Columbia and into Ecuador. We also figured out that this animal is arboreal, meaning that it spends most of its time in trees. It also does almost everything hanging upside down! Another item we found in this clue box is a picture of claws. We learned that our mystery animal’s long, strong and sharp claws make formidable weapons if the animal becomes threatened. The claws are also used to anchor to tree branches, which is very helpful considering the amount of time this animal spends in trees.
Moving on to the next clue box, we found a skull replica! Most of those teeth are not very sharp. We learned that our mystery animal must not be a carnivore. This animal is a type of herbivore called a folivore. Herbivores are animals that eat only plants. Folivores are animals that eat primarily leaves. In the wild, our mystery animal eats a variety of leaves and fruit, including tough vegetation. At the Zoo, it eats raw vegetables, fruit, some chow and browse, or branches and leafy materials from trees. Upon looking at the skull, we also saw that our mystery animal has a flattened face and a protruding snout. It also has small ears, which are usually hidden by its fur.
At the third and final clue box, we found a box of chocolates and a handmade Valentine’s Day card. Looks like our mystery animal left the chocolates for Clue Spotter! We discovered that a recent study at a Costa Rican cacao plantation has shown that populations of this species are abundant on the cacao farm, but not on neighboring lands where farmers grow bananas and pineapples or raise cattle, or where there is much less shade. Additionally, we learned that cacao is used to make chocolate! With Valentine’s Day occurring this month, a lot of chocolate will be purchased. Cacao helps our mystery animal, but make sure to buy your chocolate from sustainable companies. Be a conscious consumer this Valentine’s Day! Shop sustainably, try to use less paper, and make greeting cards from recycled paper. Once we put all these clues together, we now know that the mystery animal is the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth!
Status: Mystery Solved!
Answer: Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth
Great job, Detectives!