Welcome to the Cubic Zoo!

Thank you for accepting our invitation to witness history in the making! My name is Amanda and I'll be your tour guide! Today marks a great achievement for the known world, as you are the first to tour our great zoo! There are enclosures dedicated to every continent on the planet; but, to make things even better, the main attraction is our animal sphere! This giant orb in the center of our zoo can immediately display any animal of our choosing. Everyday we choose several animals to be on display within the sphere!

Since you are the smartest people on the planet, and have been hand selected for your intellect; today's animals are very specific. We've built a puzzle of sorts for you to solve.

The Tools

Our first stop on the tour is our technology department. When we arrive, you'll be given a cube with five faces. Each face is numbered $1$ through $5$ and contains a letter. To change a letter, simply tap the face you wish to change and select a new letter from the holographic alphabet ($a-z$) that appears. After each animal you may change any number of the five faces to a new letter. Once you've made your changes to the faces, all six sides combined must spell an animal's name in any order; however, faces $1$ through $3$ when read in order are required to display a three letter word, while faces $2$, $4$, and $5$ when read in order are not. To add to the difficulty, each animal must end with the previous animal's first letter.

You may be curious as to why this cube only has $5$ faces. This is because the sixth side is an empty slot we call the wild side, paying homage to mother nature in all her glory. The wild side accepts a single wild card which is contained in a marble. You will be given a bag containing five marbles to choose from. However, choose very carefully; once you change the current wild card, you cannot change it again.

The Rules

The rules of this puzzle are simple:

  • Faces $1$ thorugh $3$ when read in order must display a three letter word.
    • This three letter word must have a definition.
    • The three letter word is not required to be an animal.
  • The first letter of the current animal, must be the last of the next.

The First Animal

Here is your cube, with the first animal already displayed properly: The Cube

For those with difficulty reading the font:

1: C
2: A
3: T
4: V
5: E
W: O

Finally, here is your bag of marbles.

$E, F, K, N, T$

Now that you have the tools; figure out the first animal, then change your wild card so that we can continue the tour.


This zoo is going to bring a lot of paying customers for sure; their animal selection is quite exquisite.

  • What are the seven animals shown on the main tour?

The idea that the zoo created a puzzle for us to solve is awesome! The added rule for faces $1$ through $3$ is pretty neat!

  • What are the seven three letter words you chose?

Bonus Question


Rumor has it that the technology department heavily tested the cube and that following the same ruleset, you can figure out what the testing animal was.

  • What is the testing animal?


The nutrition department said they have a very special diet for their felines. It is said that there is one item in their arsenal that seems very controversial.

  • What do they feed the felines?


The first, second, and third animals have been successfully found.

The three letter word for animal number $2$ is aga which is a military commander or official in the Ottoman Empire.
The three letter word for animal number $7$ is top.

If you leave a down-vote; please explain how I can improve the post.

  • $\begingroup$ To clarify, our "alphabet" to make the 7 words with is just A, C, E, T, V, O with the option to trade O for E, F, K, N, or T just once at some point during the process? $\endgroup$
    – Dorrulf
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ [Dorrulf hasn't enough rep to comment yet, so I converted an answer they posted into a comment. Note that this may also mean they can't reply if further clarification is needed...] $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 16:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The question is as murky to me as it seems to be to Dorrulf. What exactly does it mean to have an animal "displayed on the cube"? Does each animal need to use the wildcard? (I think not, given the starting position.) What is a "basic" three-letter word? Is the idea that we make 6 letter-changes, each producing a new animal, or that we make any number of letter-changes, eventually producing six new animals, or what? $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan I've added clarifications to the post, if there is any further confusion; please feel free to let me know and I will address it the best I can. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 17:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @gabbo1092 agreed. So the puzzle is to find 6 (or is it 7) more 6-lettered animals all of which contain (the same, although it can be changed) one of the letters O,E,F,K,N,T and 5 other random letters? With two constraints: the first letter of each must be the last letter of the previous animal, and 3 of its letters must form a 3-letter word, which does not have to be an animal, even though in the first example it is CAT. Placing them on 1,2,3 is a contrivance because any letter can be selected on any face except on W. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 17:33

4 Answers 4



Wildcard: N

Animals: http://bestforpuzzles.com/lists/animals/6.html

Feline Food:

New: Purina. 6 letter word, brand of pet food, apparently allegations of it poisoning pets (2015).

Wiki - "Servals are carnivores – they prey on rodents (particularly vlei rats), small birds, frogs, insects, and reptiles." Did they really feed them iguanas?
Rats. Comes up as a 3 letter option in the puzzle for some of the animals. They're a rodent. Maybe less controversial for snake owners.

Original Test:

Servals. 3 letter: ear Wildcard: e Second stop: Rhesus / her Third stop: Onager / nag. Do I need to go through all 7? :P

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling.SE! First off, +1 for making me laugh; no they don't feed the servals iguanas. You answer is incorrect though; the wild card is not on faces $1$, $2$ or $3$ and thus cannot be used to make the three letter words. Your first three animals are correct. I would like to add that you are the closest so far though! :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that you're using an alternate spelling of your fourth animal's name; it's usually spelled with two double letters. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert That really isn't an alternate spelling, it's actually just misspelled and society typically seems okay with it. If you search the spelling provided, the result is with the doubled letter. Good find on that! Even I overlooked it! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PerpetualJ: The spelling with a single C is explicitly listed as a common variant in the OED and Merriam-Webster dictionary. So while it's a less common spelling, I think it's generally accepted. (I was surprised too, to be honest.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Dorrulf You've found all seven intended animals (set 1); I really needed to spend more time developing this one apparently. Now that you have all seven you can tackle the feline food (some lateral thinking is needed) if you wish (along with the testing animal). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 14:27


AVOCET is the first animal, containing CAT.
NUTRIA as the second animal, containing RAT. Wildcard set to N
TARPAN as the third animal, containing PAN.
NUMBAT as the fourth animal, containing BAT.
RACOON as the fifth animal, containing CAR.
CONDOR as the sixth animal, containing COD.
FENNEC as the seventh animal, containing FEN.


Testing Animal: Assumption wildcard O, final letter T, capable of extensive testing. TALBOT, subwords: BAT, TAB, LAB, ALT, TAT
Cat Food: Nutria, perhaps? It's used as human and dog foods, and might be suitable for cat food.

Previous partial answer, from when I thought 3-letter words needed to be animals:

AVOCET is the first animal, containing CAT as the sub-animal.
NUTRIA as the second animal, containing RAT as the sub-animal. Wildcard set to N
MARTEN as the third animal, containing RAM as the sub-animal.
BANTAM as the fourth animal, containing BAT as the sub-animal.

Or, if the 7 sub-animals do not need to be distinct, a path of 6


  • $\begingroup$ The question does not say that the 3-letter words are animals but "a three letter word". Your animals contain unique 3-letter words. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @WeatherVane Please clean up your comments on this answer as well so that I can leave a useful note to the poster. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ +1 For the thinking here! To start off, the three letter words are not required to be animals, but they must have a definition. Your first animal is correct as is your wild card. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PerpetualJ why aren't the other animals correct if they obey the rules? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @PerpetualJ Found an answer, sorry for my confusion earlier $\endgroup$
    – Sconibulus
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:56

Partial Answer

First Stop:

Rearranging the letters C, A, T, V, E, and O gives Avocet (a type of bird). If this is correct the next animal name must end with an A.

Second Stop:

Only animal I have found so far is IGUANA, but this would make N the wild card and I can't seem to find any three letter words in iguana without using the N, so still searching for this stop.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You've guessed the first and second animals correctly; keep up the good work as always gabbo! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:48

Initial attempt:

1. AVOCET (Cat) (feeding cats to other felines would be very controversial)
2. GOANNA (Aga)
3. DUGONG (Dug)
4. CORVID (Rid)
wildside changed to E
5. TENREC (Ten)
6. RODENT (Rot) (feeding rodents to felines isn't too far out there)
7. ONAGER (Ran)

Abandoned Attempt 2, building off of Dorrulf's response:

Dorrulf got it. Good job!

Feline Food / Test Subject

1. AVOCET (Cat)
2. AGOUTA (Tug)
swap wildside to N
3. STERNA (Rat) -Sterna is a type of bird. Rat(s) were the test animal
4. ANABAS (Baa) -a small fish that resembles a perch
5. ANGORA (Ago) -a type of rabbit
6. SONORA (Roo) -a type of snake
7. HUMANS (Hum) -what the felines are fed, to much controversy

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling.SE! I haven't had a chance to review Dorrulf's newest changes; and they actually have all seven intended animals. +1 For the attempt! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @PerpetualJ Is my bonus question attempt on the right track? I'm hoping to still try for the remaining bounty. $\endgroup$
    – Arpeggio
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately it isn’t but that made me laugh lol $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 0:41

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