Mathman 10 -
The Zoo Box
(a.k.a. "The Going Ape Over Algebra" Box)
Laurisa Perlberg, Laura Lederer, Sarah Hadler, Luke Rundel


Terrain: It's a zoo out there! ; - )  (Stroller friendly.)

Difficulty: Depends on math ability

Placed by: The Dragon (Mathman) and his Honors Advanced Algebra students of 2003-04

Location: Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee, WI

Materials needed: Compass, Calculator, Writing Utensil, Inking Pens

Dragon's Home Page
Mathman Home Page


Students and parents of students should read my introduction to letterboxing before seeking the boxes.


These clues rely on the use of matrices to encode/decode clues.  Go to this page to learn how to do this on a free graphics calculator simulator or to do it by hand.



Drive to the Milwaukee County Zoo.  From the main entrance, walk to the Dairy Complex.  (You might want to consult a map.)


Look at the “Say Cheese” board on the wall. 
is the lowest of the four options of how much cheese each person consumes in a year.  L =_____

Look at the same board.  H is the highest of the four options for the percent of cheese produced in
WisconsinH =_____

Find 7 arithmetic means between L and H:   L __ __ __ __ __ __ __ H

Take the 3rd term minus the 2nd term. This number is
P=_____. Go outside by the pond in the middle of the farm (go out the back exit).  There will be P planters of a certain kind.  Go to the farthest planter from your current position and take the path nearest to that planter.  Once you reach the main path, look at the African Elephant’s daily diet chart.  Set up a logarithm equation:

T= The number of bales of timothy grass an elephant eats each day.

V= The number of pieces of produce they eat minus the number of bales of Timothy Grass.


Evaluate this logarithm.  Then take this number, square it, and add 1. This number is now S = _____

Continue down the path (to the right of the elephant sign) past the warthogs, then straight past some dry bones on your left (hmm, looks like the students in class sometimes), until you see a group of
S benches on the right side of the path.


Write a quadratic equation.  Ax2 + Bx + C

A= The number of signs that test your “Waterhole Wisdom”.

B= The number of times the word “ostrich” is used on these signs.

C= Find the speed an Ostrich can run.  Multiply the 1st digit times the 2nd digit and take the opposite of it (so C is negative).


Divide this quadratic equation by (x+4). Record the whole number remainder as D =_____


Continue walking down the path to your right from Waterhole Wisdom.  Stop as soon as you see the large directional signs.  (Look at it from the angle you are standing at right now—don’t go to the front!)  The signs you see should look like those to the left (there are others pointing at you too).

Look at the sign with the same number as
D that you found at "Waterhole Wisdom".  Go by the animals that are on that sign.

Go to the specific animals identified by decoding this matrix:


Look at their plaque.  Find the 2 numbers that say how fast they can swim.  Take the log of the 1st number (on the left) and set it up as an inequality with the log of the 2nd number (on the right) so it is a true statement:

________________        __________________

When you face the plaque, the inequality sign in the middle will point you in the direction you should go.  After you pass under tracks not made by an animal, look at the light posts on your left.  Count them until you reach 8, then go into the building on your left entering the first doors you come to. 

Find how high the Goeldi can jump:
G = _____
Find the larger weight of the Ring-Tailed Lemur,
L = _____
Find the larger weight of the Pygmy Marmoset. 
M = _____
G varies jointly as L and M.  Find the constant of variation.
K1 = ______
This number, K1, varies indirectly as the last day the Fennec Fox baby opens its eyes (
F = _____ ) , and half of the larger weight of the Kinkajou, W = _____  Find this new constant, K2 = _____

Go out the doors and stand in front of the doors  you came in.  Face away from the building.  Walk forward bearing left and until you count K2 light posts on your left.  Turn left at the last light post and enter this building.

You will be making a 2x2 matrix and a 2x4 matrix. Put the numbers of the answers for each of the following questions in the space indicated:

1.     The number of doors total in the entrance you have just entered (don't include the bathrooms or vending machines).  

2.     The number of glass windows that circle the middle of the house.

3.     Lake Wisconsin Record’s national record weight for the Black Crappie.

4.     Lake Wisconsin Record’s state record of OUNCES (don’t include the pounds!) for a Yellow Perch.

5.     The smallest whole number length of a catfish (Hint: "pygmy").

6.     The maximum length for a Chinese Alligator.

7.     A giant anaconda can grow up to ___ times the height of an average human male.

8.     On the “Lake Wisconsin Guide to the Fishes” board, The Pumpkinseed grows up to ___inches long.

9.     On the “Diverse Amphibians” sign, how many groups are Amphibians divided into?

10.  On the “Black Tree Monitor” sign, how many A’s are in the red word “fast”?

11.  Look on the "Snake's Diet" quiz.
 Find the number of the multiple choice answer to the question "What does an anaconda eat?"

12. On the “We Like it Here” board, how fast can the Blue Racer move?


Multiply the matrices together.  Then multiply entry (2,1) by entry (2,3) and divide the result by entry (1,1).

Take the whole number from the answer minus the first number after the decimal.  Let this number be X=______

Go out the exit you did not come in.  Walk out the left driveway.  Starting with the dinosaur footprint in front of you, turn left and count X footprints.  When you reach the Xth footprint, turn right and enter the building.

  • When you enter the building, go straight until you hit a wall.

  • How many monkeys are on only the wall to your right?  Count carefully! ______

  • Face the monkey that was straight in front of you.  Head in the direction the monkey is swinging.

  • Stop when you see the sign that says “Ape Adventure, Africa to America.”
    On one of the four boards, find the date when “Kitty” the Bonobo was shipped to Wassenaar Zoo.  Add the last two digits of the date. ______

  • Go down the stairs to your right.

  • Count the number of whole ceiling tiles in the far right column.
    Add this number to the number of lights on the ceiling only in this area.  Your total is ______

  • Go up the opposite set of stairs and walk right.

  • Stop at the “Gorillas are Great Apes” sign on your left.  Take the two biggest number millions of years.  Add them together and divide by 1 million.  ______  (Whether you're a Czeltic girl or not, you can squish a penny.)

  • Follow the exit sign on your right.  Turn left at the appeal donor signs.

  • When you get to the "Entrance Gallery", count the number of pictures in the gallery plus the plaque: ______

  • Turn around and go back to the place you entered this building.  Now go down the hallway to the left.

  • Keep following the path a ways down until you see the  Primate World Map. 
    Add: Tamarin, Mangabay, Aye-Aye, Tarsier, Marmoset, and Macaque:  ______

  • Keep following the path to the exit and go outside the door.

Sit down and look at the sequence of numbers you gathered from this building.  What kind of sequence is it? What is the sum of the related series?  S = ______
Count the number of black fence rectangular pieces to the left of the doors as you exit,
B = _____
Find the sign giving you information about the animals that are normally in the cage here.  Find the amount of territory in which they live and the the lowest number of feet above the ground they travel. These two numbers added together are
R =_____.

S varies inversely as B and directly as R.  Find the constant of variation: ______

Start at the left and count the number of black fence rectangular pieces until you reach the number of the constant of variation.  There, at the meeting of a black pole and a corner of a split rail fence, you will find the letterbox under some loose wood and leaves in the corner of the split rail fence. Be sure no one is watching you!  ((I've found sitting on the rail fence until the cost is clear to be most advantageous.)  Re-hide the box well!  Thanks!

Before you set out read the waiver of responsibility and disclaimer.

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