A zoo staff member tossed the dismembered body of Kashka, a giraffe who was euthanized last week after a debilitating leg injury, into a dumpster on zoo property.
A garbage truck eventually took the dumpster containing the deceased giraffe to a local landfill.
Zoo animals are sent to the landfill when they die, but Albuquerque's Cultural Services Director Betty Rivera said the way Kashka was handled is shocking.
Rivera oversees Albuquerque's Rio Grande Zoo.
"It is totally inappropriate and something that should outrage everyone," Rivera said.
She said Kashka was dismembered so the zoo veterinarian could perform a necropsy, which is a standard practice.
"When the vet was complete, the director of the zoo instructed the persons at the zoo to take the remains to the landfill," Rivera said.
But instead of taking the giraffe to an area designated for dead animals at the landfill, a zoo worker put the giraffe carcass in a zoo dumpster.
Rivera said that is not how beloved zoo animals should be treated, and Mayor R. J. Berry's office has launched a full investigation into what went wrong.
"I know that the people in our department are very saddened and really upset about what occurred," Rivera said. "And I think you can understand why, it should never had happened."
Dead animals can be taken to the landfill, but it is against city laws to leave them in a trash can or dumpster for a garbage truck to collect, according to an Albuquerque city ordinance.
Berry said he wants the investigation finished by Friday. He said he will take appropriate action when he finds out who is responsible for this.