Giraffe's dismembered carcass was left in trash bin near N.M. zoo

By associated press
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, MARCH 23 -- A beloved giraffe at this city's zoo was dismembered and placed in a trash bin after her death, prompting an outraged mayor to order an investigation into the matter.

"This is nothing short of outrageous, and the mayor has expressed that very publicly. This is unacceptable behavior from a city employee," said Chris Ramirez, a spokesman for Mayor Richard Berry.

Berry has ordered a report on the incident by Friday morning.

The 16-year-old giraffe, Kashka, had suffered a debilitating leg injury after a recent fall. Officials at the Rio Grande Zoo said that attempts to treat her condition would probably not be successful, so veterinarians decided last week to euthanize her.

A necropsy showed that, in addition to ligament damage in her left rear knee, Kashka was in the initial stages of peracute mortality syndrome, a wasting disease not well understood that is common and usually fatal in giraffes.

Kashka was born at the Miami Metro Zoo on Jan. 3, 1994. She arrived at the Rio Grande Zoo later that year and went on to have six calves over the years.

"She was a good mother, and we're very, very sad and we're embarrassed and upset," said Betty Rivera, director of the city's cultural services department, which oversees the zoo.

Kashka was like a family member to many zoo employees, so her disposal in a trash bin near the zoo has been hard for them to accept, Rivera said.

Instead of following protocol and taking the giraffe to the landfill, a zoo worker put the dismembered giraffe carcass in a bin near the zoo Thursday. A garbage truck driver spotted the remains the next day and reported it to his supervisor.

The zoo, and Albuquerque's animal shelters, are required to take any animal remains to the landfill, where they are properly disposed of in a special area.

City officials said they hope people realize this is not a reflection on the rest of the zoo staff.

"It's unfortunate," Ramirez said. "The zoo staff gets really attached to the animals that are there, especially the larger ones like the giraffe. They are really upset about this."

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