Dead giraffe found in NM trash can

Albuquerque, NM - (NBC) - For years Kashka the giraffe roamed her pen at Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, NM.

Tall and graceful, she gave birth to six calves while in captivity.

The 16-year-old giraffe was euthanized Thursday because of a debilitating leg injury. But instead of burying her in a landfill, which is the standard procedure, a zoo employee dumped her dismembered body in a garbage bin instead.

Betty Rivera is the director of cultural services and says that's not the way carcasses are handled.

"It's dishonorable to the animal and it dishonors our city and our employees," said Rivera.

She says the zoo employee has been identified as John Cordova, who's been with the zoo for 10 years and normally does construction. He also uses large equipment to move the bodies of big animals.

Cordova was supposed to take Kashka to the landfill, but a trash collector later found her dismembered body in a garbage bin.

"This employee has done this before, taken an animal to the landfill, and this time he just short stepped it," said Rivera.

Mayor Richard Berry has ordered an investigation and wants answers by week's end.

"[The mayor] has instructed that [Rivera] do a complete internal investigation. He wants to know what employees were involved, what employees in management were supposed to oversee the transporting of the animal."

Zoo-goers say Kashka deserved better, many of them calling for Cordova to be fired.

Cordova is still working at the zoo pending the investigation but city officials say he's nowhere near any animals.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.