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The Long Island Bird and Exotics Vet Clinic Team

Shachar Malka Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Dr. Shachar Malka

Diplomate ABVP & Diplomate ACEPM 

Dr. Shachar Malka is LIBEVC’s medical director. He has more than 20 years of experience working with avian, reptiles, exotic pets and wildlife. He completed an internship at the University of Guelph, Canada and a three year residency program at the University of California, Davis in exotic pet medicine and surgery.

Dr. Malka's professional interests include: surgery and minimally invasive surgery, endoscopy, and advanced imaging.

Dr. Malka co-founded the American College of Exotic Pet Medicine, an organization dedicated to training and certifying veterinarians in exotic pet medicine and improving the field of veterinary medicine as a whole. He is boarded in exotic pet medicine by the American College of Exotic Pet Medicine and in avian medicine by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

He continues to publish scientific articles on a variety of topics in avian and exotic animal medicine and lectures at national and international veterinary conferences. See Dr. Malka's Publications.

Dr. Malka is the founder of Rift Valley Wildlife Clinics, a non-profit that cares for wildlife locally as well as in East Africa, where he volunteers much of his time providing veterinary care to animals in need.

Gina Vecere Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinarian

Dr. Gina Vecere

Diplomate ACEPM

Dr. Vecere graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship and a residency in Exotic Pet Medicine here at LIBEVC. Her professional interests include reptile medicine and diagnostic imaging. Dr. Vecere grew up in the Hudson Valley, and enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing with her dog, two cats, bearded dragon, and boa constrictor. 

See Dr. Vecere's Publications.


Dr. Nicole Sands

Dr. Nicole Sands is a graduate of Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine where she worked in the exotics department as a student technician and volunteered at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center. She completed a Rotating Small Animal Medicine and Surgical Internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey where she gained lots of experience in emergency medicine as well as working with exotic pets. Prior to veterinary school, she worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician at the Humane Society of New York. Dr. Sands grew up in Brooklyn, New York and is happy to be back in the city. Her professional interests include Avian surgery and medicine as well as endoscopy and diagnostic imaging. Outside of vet med, Dr. Sands enjoys playing video games, making crochet dolls, cooking, and spending time with her family. She shares her home with a spicy green cheek conure, 4 budgies, a rabbit, lots of fish, shrimp and 2 cats.


Dr. Margaret Lee

Dr. Margaret Lee graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to vet school, she worked as a veterinary technician in small animal general practices and worked as a hospital/lab assistant at the New York Aquarium. While in vet school, she worked part-time as a technician at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital and had the opportunity to volunteer with the Belize Zoo. Dr. Lee’s professional interests include wildlife/zoo medicine, neurology, critical care and emergency medicine. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY.  Her hobbies include baking, painting, and of course, spoiling her dog, two rabbits and hammy. 

Stephanie Wieczorek Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinary Technician

Stephanie Wieczorek

Lead Veterinary Technician (LVT)

Stephanie is an LVT who graduated Mercy College in 2020. With a passion for animals of all shapes and sizes at a young age, she knew she would work with them as a profession. She grew up with an abundance of species from dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fish and small mammals. On her free time she loves to go hiking with her Labrador, play video games, and spend time with her husband, cats, Leopard Gecko and rats.

Sara Woods Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinary Assistant

Sara Woods

Veterinary Technician/Practice Manager

Sara has had a passion for learning and caring for animals from a young age. Growing up with many different animals including dogs, cats, birds and small mammals. Her first job was working at Petsmart while she was in college and fell in love with working with the animals in the small pet department. Sara had worked as a photographer for a few years before deciding to go back to school to become a vet tech. Working at LIBEVC has helped Sara achieve her dream of working with animals. In her spare time Sara enjoys spending time with her family and dog, reading and taking pictures.

Sarah Hoogenboom Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinary Assistant

Sarah Hoogenboom

Veterinary Technician

Sarah has had a passion for animals since she was a little girl. She has always loved caring for them and rescuing ones in need. She is currently a student at Hunter College working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She hopes to one day become a vet herself and specialize in exotics and wildlife rehabilitation. She is excited to join the team at LIBEVC. During her free time she enjoys taking care of her reptiles, reading, and writing poetry. 

Katarina Rodriguez Long Island Exotic Pet Veterinary Assistant

Katarina Rodriguez

Veterinary Technician

Katarina, the LIBVEC bun-enthusiast, is working towards becoming a licensed veterinary technician and taking classes through the San Juan College Veterinary Technology Distance Learning Program (VTDLP). She is a self-proclaimed bunny guru, but she will not hesitate to cuddle a meddlesome Macaw or a chatty chameleon. She has a beautiful holland lop waiting for her to come home every day by the name of Skipps. Katarina’s love of animals truly blossomed later in life, when she witnessed at a rehabilitation center the power of small mammals and exotics to motivate people to heal and recover. When Katarina is not busy sneaking extra fruits to her patients, she enjoys soccer, kick boxing, and writing short stories. Stay tuned, Katarina is planning to start bunny-yoga sessions at LIBEVC (after she convinces Dr. Malka first!).


Fernando Martinez Villafranca

Veterinary Technician L.V.T. and M.V.Z.

Fernando is an LVT from the University of the State of New York, he graduated in Veterinary Medicine in Mexico, at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico in 2020, he is currently in the process of obtaining a Veterinary Medicine license in the State of New York He did an intership at the ZOOMAT zoo in Tuxtla Gutiérrez Chiapas where he worked with wild and captive crocodiles, he also did a clinical stay at the Zacango zoo in Toluca Mexico, he is passionate about wild and exotic animals, his favorites are reptiles .  In his spare time, he loves to exercise, listen to music and podcasts, and hunt for good food in the Big Apple.

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Hallie Ovadia

Veterinary Assistant

Hallie brings a unique perspective from her experiences as a Bronx Zoo zookeeper in the ornithology department. Her care is immensely precise and delicate ensuring that every patient leaves our clinic feeling a little more understood and a lot more loved. Hallie has a particular affinity and deep appreciation for guinea pigs, crediting them for teaching her a new love language, how to "love from a distance." Hallie shares her home with two beloved guinea pigs and Milo, an exceptionally happy pup. 

Karen Mezynski Long Island Exotic Pet CSR

Karen Mezynski


Karen’s love for animals was evident from early on: as a child Karen’s pets included freshwater fish, newts, an albino clawed frog, cats and a dog. Karen graduated from Long Island University CW Post with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology, and is a certified Open Water SCUBA diver.   Karen volunteered for the New York Aquarium’s Animal Department, and was later hired as a Wild Animal Keeper. Karen’s nine years of service with the Wildlife Conservation Society includes experience with shark transport, sea lion training, and bottle feeding a 250 lb. walrus calf. In 2012 Karen took part in the Superstorm Sandy animal rescue efforts  which included saving displaced seahorses from flooded exhibit areas. In her downtime Karen enjoys yoga and physical fitness, as well as playing board games and spending time in nature with her daughter.

Isabel Fife Cook Long Island Exotic Pet CSR

Isabel Fife-Cook

Veterinary Assistant/Aquatic Nursing Consultant

Isabel earned her M.A. in animal studies from NYU, where she studied ethology and animal welfare science with a concentration in koi and goldfish behavior. Her post-graduate research objectives include investigating novel opportunities to species-specific environmental enrichment in aquaculture and improving husbandry standards for ornamental fishes. Isabel has been fascinated by animals for as long as she can remember, spending her childhood reading ZooBooks, sketching birds and turning over logs to search for hidden critters. As an adult, Isabel remains passionate about zoology, animal protection and science communication and plans on pursuing further education in veterinary medicine or research science. When she’s not at the clinic or writing papers Isabel enjoys drawing and painting, listening to podcasts, making fun of terrible movies with her partner and attempting to train her birds not to poop on the keyboard.


Stephanie Ibanez


Since Stephanie was a little girl she has always had a love and passion for animals. Growing up an only child she found comfort and companionship in her pets which varied from goldfish, betta fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, a cockatiel and dogs. After graduating and working as a medical assistant for many years she had an opportunity to work as an animal transporter, alongside many rescue groups. This confirmed her ideal job would be working in a place where she can be around animals and the people who love them. Working at LIBEVC has been the best of both. In her free time she loves to be home with her dog Polo watching television, listening to music, going out to eat and doing fun outdoor activities.


Jacqueline Contino

Veterinary Assistant

Jacqueline’s focus is in wildlife conservation and animal behavior. After earning her pre-veterinary degree in Animal Biosciences, she worked as a domestic animal vet assistant for 3 years, then spent over 4 years living in South Africa studying and working closely with the wildlife. Working in behavioral analysis, ecology, animal tracking, and most importantly conservation, Jacqueline plans to establish her own rhino orphanage one day. But until then, she will use her expertise in the natural order of wild animals to help exotic pets live a long happy healthy life in the human home. In her free time, Jacqueline loves making memories with her family, hiking and birding adventures, and lots of yoga.


Linda Sucuzhagnay

Veterinary Assistant

Linda always had loved animals for as long as she can remember. She received her B.S in psychology and biology in City college where she also played college soccer. Linda has experience working in an emergency veterinary hospital and also runs her own pet sitting business. She is currently working towards becoming a LVT and taking classes through Penn foster vet tech program. Linda is always looking to learn more to continue to improve her patient care. She loves working with all exotic species but has an extra soft spot for sugar gliders! During her free time she enjoys going to dance classes, playing video games, and spoiling her cats, sugar gliders and bearded dragon.

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