Want to make creations as awesome as this one?

Track down the location of a hidden photograph by solving puzzles and following the clues. As you go, you will learn a little bit about the animal that has been photographed by your mysterious contact, "The Photographer".

Transcript

Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park

A digital escape-room-esque challenge

start

Photo Mystery

2

Puzzle difficulty: Easy/Medium
Suitable for ages 12+

Welcome

As you proceed through the story of the mystery photograph, you will be challenged with various puzzles. Having paper and a writing utensil with you may be helpful to complete these challenges. Each puzzle must be successfully completed before moving on to the next part of the story.

Thank you for playing Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park's digital escape room!

Let's begin...

Click the next button to proceed.

Go Back

Next

Note: This escape room is entirely digital. None of the puzzles or props presented here are offered in-person at the park.

Introduction

December brought with it colder weather and several foggy mornings. Your last story, featuring the picture you earned from The Photographer, was a big success. You wondered if you would ever hear from them again. Just then, you hear a phone vibrate with a short buzz.

Carlsbad, NM 2022

Click the next button to proceed.

Next

Go Back

It's not just any phone, however. It's the phone you received as a part of your last encounter with The Photographer. After completing their challenges, they suggested you hold onto the phone just in case.

Now the screen was lit up with an "unread message" notification.

Click on the Home button to unlock the phone.

00:00

1 unread message from The Photographer.

You begin to wonder what The Photographer has to say. You can only assume that this has something to do with another picture.


Click on the Messages icon.

00:00

Sure enough, The Photographer has finally offered you another photo! Are you ready to play through their games?

Click on your reply.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

Bring it on!

I'm not sure about this.

No thank you.

Without hesitation you accept The Photographer's new challenge. You aren't about to let this opportunity go to waste!


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

Bring it on!

. . .

The Photographer seems pleased with your reply.

Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

Bring it on!

Your enthusiasm is appreciated.

Unsure whether it's wise to engage with The Photographer, you type out a hesitant reply.


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

I'm not sure about this.

. . .

The Photographer swiftly replies, trying to entice you into playing their games.


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

I'm not sure about this.

I assure you the puzzles will be entertaining and the photo memorable.

After debating for a few minutes, you make your choice.

Click on your reply.

The Photographer

I'm not sure about this.

I assure you the puzzles will be entertaining and the photo memorable.

Ok. I'll give it a shot.

I don't think I'm ready for another one of your challenges.

You decide to try out The Photographer's challenges once again.


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

I'm not sure about this.

I assure you the puzzles will be entertaining and the photo memorable.

Ok. I'll give it a shot.

I'm glad to hear it.

You decide not to engage with The Photographer's games at this time. They give a short reply before going silent.


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

I'm not sure about this.

I assure you the puzzles will be entertaining and the photo memorable.

I don't think I'm ready for another one of your challenges.

That's disappointing.

You decide not to take The Photographer up on their offer. Shortly after declining, you see that they are typing a response.


Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

No thank you.

. . .

You read the incoming reply and wait, curious if The Photographer will try to change your mind. After several minutes you decide that this message will likely be the last.

Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

Hello again. I hope you have been doing well. I have a new photo if you are up to the challenge.

No thank you.

That's too bad. I was looking forward to working with you again.

Oops!

It looks like The Photographer will not try to contact you again.

What would have happened if you agreed to their challenge?

TRY AGAIN

The Photographer sends you a picture of a familiar location. It's the Visitor Center of Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park.

Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

First, you should make your way to this location.

You arrive at the Refreshments area of the Visitor Center. In this area are vending machines, display cases, a rack of chairs, and a tri-fold poster. There must be a clue hidden here somewhere. Where do you want to check?
Click on a circle in the photo to investigate the area.

The vending machines are full of tasty snacks and drinks, but there are no clues to be found.

Look somewhere else.

Go Back

The display cases are full of many skulls, and next to the cases are some deer antlers. Unfortunately, you don't see any clues.
Look somewhere else.

Go Back

The chair rack is, unsurprisingly, packed with chairs.
That's it. There are no clues there.

Look somewhere else.

Go Back

Success! You see a paper tucked behind one of the photos on the tri-fold poster showing New Mexico's state symbols.

Click the next button to proceed.

The animal I have photographed eats many things. I have included some of those food items in a word bank underneath this word search puzzle. However, not every word in the word bank can be found in the puzzle. At least one word will not be there.

The missing word(s) will help you identify what part of the zoo you need to go to next.

When you pull out the paper, you find a message on one side and a 15 x 15 square of letters and 18 words on the other.

Your puzzle begins on the next page.

The animal I have photographed eats many things. I have included some of these food items in a word bank underneath this word search puzzle. However, not every word in the word bank can be found in the puzzle. At least one word will not be there.

The missing word(s) will help you identify what part of the zoo you need to go to next.

Use the pen tool* (upper right corner) to mark words as you find them. Remember, there will be at least one word missing from the puzzle.

When you think you are done, click the next button.

Help

*Remember to deselect the pen tool when you are finished. When you deselect all of your drawn lines will disappear, but if you select the pen tool again, they will reappear.

Words may appear forwards or backwards and horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Words may share letters with other words.


At least one word will not appear in the puzzle. Keep track of how many words are missing because you will be asked on the next page.

How many words were missing from the puzzle?

Click on your answer.

5

1

4

3

2

That's right! Which two words were NOT found in the puzzle?

Click on the words.

That's right! Which two words were NOT found in the puzzle?

Click on the words.

That's right! Which two words were NOT found in the puzzle?

Click on the words.

Correct! Lizard and Rattlesnake were the only words NOT found in the puzzle.

Click the next button to proceed.

In which exhibit can you find lizards and rattlesnakes?

Click the location on the map.

That's correct! Lizards and rattlesnakes are reptiles, so you need to go to the Reptile Exhibit!

Click the next button to proceed.

You walk down the path of the park until you approach the reptile building. You enter into a room with brightly colored signs and then go through a doorway to where the various snakes and lizard are.

Click the next button to proceed.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.

As you look around the exhibit, you notice a slip of paper next to one of the snake's homes. Upon further inspection, you find a total of three papers.

Click on the blue papers.


Click the next button to proceed.

You retrieve the three pieces of paper from the Reptile Exhibit. Each one has some random lines and shapes on it. Just then, your phone vibrates again.
Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer has once again made contact. This time, it seems, it is to give you a nudge in the right direction. According to their message, the 3 drawings must go together somehow.

Click the next button to proceed.

The Photographer

And, as always, "X" marks the spot.

You are doing well so far.

You should have found 3 slips of paper in the Reptile Exhibit.

Combined, they will lead you to a location on the map.

We move!

Which of the two bottom images matches the the image created by combining the three pictures you found?
Click on the correct image.

What image is created when all 3 images lay on top of each other?


Each of the three pieces can be dragged so you can overlay them. Or, you could choose to draw each image onto a paper grid.


Struggling to see the difference?

Pay attention to where the hexagons are and look for any missing lines. And does that "X" look at all different to you?

What location do the combined images lead to?

Click the location on the map.

That's it! The image is of the aviary section. Specifically, the "X" marks the walkthru aviary.

As you get ready to walk back up the path, you can't help but wonder if the shape of that "X" is significant somehow.

Click the next button to proceed.

Inside the walkthru aviary you spot a locked gray box sitting on the ground. You walk up to the box to inspect it.

Click the next button to proceed.

X

X

X

X

On the back of the box are four slips of paper. Each paper has the same set of instructions with different combinations of letters.

One of the riddles must be used to unlock the box, but which one? Each paper has a different number (12, 15, 18, 19) in the corner. There must be another piece to this puzzle.

Click the next button to proceed.

B

L

M

T

A

B

Y

R

T

L

Z

A

S

T

Z

R

M

T

L

C

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

X

X

X

X

Q

L

M

G

A

Q

E

R

G

L

Z

A

B

G

Z

R

M

G

L

C

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

X

X

X

X

Q

P

M

G

A

Q

E

R

G

P

D

A

B

G

D

R

M

G

P

K

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

X

X

X

X

Q

L

F

I

U

Q

E

R

G

L

Z

U

B

I

Z

R

F

I

L

C

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

X

X

X

X

12

15

18

19

You continue to walk through the aviary watching birds hop around on the ground and in the trees. As you approach the second set of doors, you see a picture of a cuckoo clock taped to it.

You pull the picture from the door and see the words "Count the differences to open the lock" written on the back.

Click on the picture of the cuckoo clock.

Assuming you need another picture in order to "count the differences", you head back towards the door you entered through.

Sure enough, you find another cuckoo clock picture taped there. You place the photos side-by-side and begin to look for differences.

Based on the locked box riddles, you guess there must be 12, 15, 18, or 19 differences between the two photos.

Click on the picture of the cuckoo clock to begin your next puzzle.

Spot the differences between these two images.

How many differences did you find (12, 15, 18, or 19)?

Use the pen tool* to mark the differences as you find them.

Click the next button when you are done.

Cuckoo clock, Sankt Goar by Unknown author is licensed under CC 0 1.0

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_clock,_Sankt_Goar.jpg

Image adapted from: Cuckoo clock, Sankt Goar by Unknown author licensed under CC 0 1.0

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_clock,_Sankt_Goar.jpg

*Remember to deselect the pen tool when you are finished. When you deselect all of your drawn lines will disappear, but if you select the pen tool again, they will reappear.

Important notes in bold in the help section!

There are 12, 15, 18, or 19 differences between these two images.


Differences may be found anywhere in the picture. Backgrounds can be a great place to find differences!


If two things have been swapped, that counts as a single change.


There is one part of the picture that looks a bit blurry compared to the original. That is not a difference. However, it may be related to one.


Above the center leaf there is less dark space in the photo on the right. This was an accidental difference created when making a different edit. This one does not count towards the total.


Common changes made for "Spot the Differences" puzzles are color changes, adding things to a picture, deleting/erasing things from a picture, swapping positions of two things, and changing the size of something in the picture.

How many differences did you find between the two pictures?
Click the right answer.

15

19

12

18

Correct! There are 15 differences between these two images.

Each difference has been marked for you to see.

Click the next button to proceed.

Cuckoo clock, Sankt Goar by Unknown author is licensed under CC 0 1.0

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_clock,_Sankt_Goar.jpg

Image adapted from: Cuckoo clock, Sankt Goar by Unknown author licensed under CC 0 1.0

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_clock,_Sankt_Goar.jpg

(Answer explanation)

  • Added an airplane
  • Erased part of a branch near the top bird
  • Changed the color of the top bird's foot from brown to yellow
  • Changed the clock door from pale green to red
  • Made the pale green, fence-like structure below the door a solid piece (no slats)
  • Swapped the "X" and "I" numbers on the clock.
  • Changed the time (moved the clock hands)
  • Gave the bird on the right a big googly-like eye
  • Shortened the right side of the back of the clock house (the shadowed area in the purple rectangle)
  • Added a tree
  • Removed wire/powerline from background
  • Changed the color of the swinging leaf (replaced it with a copy of the middle leaf above it)
  • Added another black light/camera structure to building
  • Erased a dark line/crossbar on the underside of the brown metal structure on the building
  • Erased the top of a building

You look back at the riddles attached to the gray box and focus on the one labeled "15". On the back is a short note.

Your puzzle begins on the next page.

Image adapted from: Cuckoo clock, Sankt Goar by Unknown author licensed under CC 0 1.0

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_clock,_Sankt_Goar.jpg

15

If 15 was your answer to the Cuckoo clock puzzle, the animal I've photographed can run at speeds of 15-20 mph. Some sources say one animal was clocked running 26 mph!

Curious about the other notes?

Q

L

M

G

A

Q

E

R

G

L

Z

A

B

G

Z

R

M

G

L

C

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

X

X

X

X

15

The information on each note is only true if it is written on the correct riddle (i.e., 15 is the only one that applies to the mystery animal).


  • 12

      • If 12 was your answer to the Cuckoo clock puzzle, the animal I've photographed has at least 12 common names that it has been called. It is now primarily known by just one of those.
  • 15
    • If 15 was your answer to the Cuckoo clock puzzle, the animal I've photographed can run at speeds of 15-20 mph. Some sources say one animal was clocked running 26 mph!
  • 18
    • If 18 was your answer to the Cuckoo clock puzzle, the animal I've photographed is considered an adult when they reach 18 years of age.
  • 19

      • If 19 was your answer to the Cuckoo clock puzzle, the animal I've photographed can be found in 19 countries including the U.S.

M

G

B

L

G

C

G

Z

L

A

R

Z

Q

A

Q

E

R

L

M

G

  • One letter is correct but in the wrong place.

  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

  • One letter is correct and in the right place.

  • Nothing is correct.



  • Two letters are correct but in the wrong places.

Use the clues to determine the lock's 4-letter combination. Use the pen tool* or pen/paper to take notes.
When you know the answer, click the next button.

X

X

X

X

*Remember to deselect the pen tool when you are finished. When you deselect all of your drawn lines will disappear, but if you select the pen tool again, they will reappear.

Which clue lets you eliminate multiple letters? Start there!


Make sure your final letters work with each clue.


Detailed guide:


Start with the 4th set of letters (BGZR). None of those letters are correct. Cross out B, G, Z, and R in every set of letters.


Next look at the 3rd set of letters. "One letter is correct and in the right place". (G L Z A) The only possible correct letters are L and A. Now look at previous clues to determine which is correct. The 1st line says that only one letter is correct and it is in the wrong place. L is one of the letters, but it is in the same position as the 3rd line. If the correct letter is in the wrong place in line 1 and the correct place in line 3, then L can't be the correct letter. Cross L out on every line. In the 3rd set of letters, A must be correct. Circle A in every line.


Now look at the 5th set of letters. "Two letters are correct but in the wrong places." (M G L C) There are only two possible letters remaining, so they must be correct. Circle M and C in every set of letters.


Look back to the 1st set of letters. "One letter is correct but in the wrong place". (Q L M G) We determined that M was the correct letter in the last step, so we can cross out the Q in every line.


Finally we have to determine what order the letters are in. We know from the 3rd clue that A is in the last position.


The 1st and 5th clues tell us that M (found in both sets) is in the wrong position in both of those. So M cannot be the first or third letter, leaving the second position.


In the 2nd set, E is also in the wrong place. So it cannot be in the third position, leaving the first position as the only possibility.


The last letter, C, must then fill the third space.



Which combination is correct?
Click on the correct lock.

Q

L

M

E

A

Q

C

M

C

M

Q

A

C

E

M

A

E

M

C

A

Success! The lock unlocks and you are able to open up the box. Inside is a picture of the box turtle exhibit sign.

You passed the box turtles on your way up to the walkthru aviary, so you know just where to go.

Click the next button to proceed.

M

E

C

A

The box turtles share their exhibit with another species: the Greater Roadrunner. When you approach their home, you see that it is underneath the roadrunners' sign, not the box turtles', where your prize is to be found.


You pull out the envelope with "Congratulations" written across it and proceed to open it up.

Click the next button to proceed.

Congratulations

As expected, inside the envelope are a note and a photo.


Click the next button to view the documents.

Congratulations

I led you to the aviary for a very simple reason: roadrunners are birds! Specifically, they are members of the cuckoo family, and what better hint to include than a beautiful cuckoo clock?

4. EMCA & 15 MPH
As the note on the back of the lock riddle said, greater Roadrunners can reach speeds of 15-20 mph. That's fast! And despite what a certain cartoon would lead you to beliece, coyotes can run quite a bit faster at 20-40 mph. And as a reference to this iconic cartoon, the lock combination EMCA spelled backward is ACME, Wile E. Coyote's preffered brand for all his roadrunner-capturing needs!

Now that you have completed this challenge, I hope you'll take some time to visit Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. Check out all of the locations you visited virtually for this challenge, and make sure to stop by the roadrunner exhibit to say "Hello!"

Until next time,

The Photographer

Congratulations! You have successfully completed all of my puzzles. I certainly hope you didn't find them boring. Each clue was related to the roadrunner in some way. Let us review...


1. Tri-Fold Poster (New Mexico State Symbols)
Every state has its unique set of state symbols, just like the United States has its national symbols. The U.S. national bird is the bald eagle. New Mexico's state bird is the Greater Roadrunner!

2. Lizards & Rattlesnakes
The word search listed a lot of foods that roadrunners will eat. You can sometimes see them running off with a lizard or snake tail hanging from their beaks! Roadrunners are skilled hunters and will occasionally take on a rattlesnake, jumping around and dodging until they have an opening to strike.

3. X Marks the Spot, the Aviary, and a Cuckoo Clock
The "X" on the map piece was actually a representation of a roadrunner footprint! They have zygodactyl feet and their X-shaped tracks are thought to make it more difficult for a predator to tell which direction they are travelling. You, on the other hand, had no trouble following their single track to the aviary.

Click the next button to proceed.

Congratulations! You have successfully completed all of my puzzles. I certainly hope you didn't find them boring. Each clue was related to the roadrunner in some way. Let us review...


1. Tri-Fold Poster (New Mexico State Symbols)
Every state has its unique set of state symbols, just like the United States has its national symbols. The U.S. national bird is the bald eagle. New Mexico's state bird is the greater roadrunner!

2. Lizards & Rattlesnakes
The word search listed a lot of foods that roadrunners will eat. You can sometimes see them running off with a lizard or snake tail hanging from their beaks! Roadrunners are skilled hunters and will occasionally take on a rattlesnake, jumping around and dodging until they have an opening to strike.

3. X Marks the Spot, the Aviary, and a Cuckoo Clock
The "X" on the map piece was actually a representation of a roadrunner footprint! They have zygodactyl feet and their X-shaped tracks are thought to make it more difficult for a predator to tell which direction they are travelling. You, on the other hand, had no trouble following their single track to the aviary.

I led you to the aviary for a very simple reason: roadrunners are birds! Specifically, they are members of the cuckoo family, and what better hint to include than a beautiful cuckoo clock?

4. EMCA & 15 MPH
As the note on the back of the lock riddle said, greater roadrunners can reach speeds of 15-20 mph. That's fast! And despite what a certain cartoon would lead you to beliece, coyotes can run quite a bit faster at 20-40 mph. And as a reference to this iconic cartoon, the lock combination EMCA spelled backward is ACME, Wile E. Coyote's preffered brand for all his roadrunner-capturing needs!

Now that you have completed this challenge, I hope you'll take some time to visit Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. Check out all of the locations you visited virtually for this challenge, and make sure to stop by the roadrunner exhibit to say "Hello!"

Until next time,

The Photographer

Click on the bolded words in the letter for more info.

Click the next button to proceed.

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are the stars of a popular series of shorts. Their first short, The Fast and the Furry-ous aired in 1949 as part of the Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies cartoons.


Road Runner is a purple and blue bird with a yellow beak who speeds through the desert and says "beep beep". The bird he is inspired by, the greater roadrunner, is more brown and cream in color with a long, dark beak. The most colorful part of them is a patch of blue and orange skin behind the eyes. Roadrunners also have a crest of feathers on top of their head that they can raise and lower and a long tail that acts as a rudder for balance. They also have black skin that helps them to warm up quickly in the mornings when they fluff their feathers out and sit in the sun.


Roadrunners have a variety of vocalizations, but none sound quite like the "beep beep" we are accustomed to in the cartoons. They can make a variety of noises including clucking sounds, a hissy screech, and even a call that sounds like a whining dog!

State Symbols: Items chosen to represent a state. They include various animals, minerals, crests, and more.


New Mexico's State Symbols:

  • Bird: Greater roadrunner
  • Mammal: American Black Bear
  • Reptile: New Mexico Whiptail Lizard
  • Amphibian: New Mexico Spadefoot Toad
  • Fish: Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
  • Insect: Tarantula Hawk Wasp
  • Butterfly: Sandia Hairstreak
  • Flower: Yucca Flower
  • Tree: Two Needle Piñon Pine
  • Grass: Blue Grama
  • Fossil: Coelophysis
  • Gem: Turquoise
  • Cookie: Biscochito
  • Vegetables: frijoles (pinto beans) & chiles
  • Tie: Bolo Tie
  • Necklace: Squash Blossom Necklace
  • Aircraft: Hot Air Balloon
  • Cowboy Song: "Under the New Mexico Skies"
  • Guitar: New Mexico Sunrise


You can learn about these NM State Symbols (and a few more), here!

Roadrunners do not eat rattlesnakes all the time, but when they do attempt to make a meal of one, they are often successful. They will use their agility and speed to their advantage. If they manage to catch the rattlesnake, they may peck at its head to kill it or bash its head against the ground.


This National Geographic video shows a little of what an encounter between these two species may look like.

Roadrunners do not eat rattlesnakes all the time, but when they do attempt to make a meal of one, they are often successful. They will use their agility and speed to their advantage. If they manage to catch the rattlesnake, they may peck at its head to kill it or bash its head against the ground.


This National Geographic video shows a little of what an encounter between these two species may look like.

Zygodactyl: This refers to the toe arrangement of birds that have two toes facing forward and two toes facing back. Specifically, the 2nd and 3rd toes face forward and the 1st (hallux) and 4th toes face back.


Zygodactyl feet can be found in cuckoos, parrots, woodpeckers, owls*, and more.


*Owls can move their 4th toe to face front or back.

Great job!

Thank you for playing this Mystery Photo digital escape room! You have proved yourself to be a super sleuth!


We hope you will come visit us at Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park soon!

Start over?

Oops!

It looks like this puzzle stumped you. I'll give you another chance to figure it out.

The Photographer

TRY AGAIN