Dr. Shachar Malka
DVM, Diplomate ABVP
Dr. Shachar Malka has more than 15 years of experience working with birds, exotic species and wildlife. Dr. Malka completed four additional years of advanced training in this field after graduating from veterinary school. He completed an internship at the University of Guelph, Canada and a three year residency program at the University of California, Davis. LIBEVC is the third specialty practice that Dr. Malka established. Prior to LIBEVC he founded an Avian and Exotics specialty service at a large regional specialty hospital in California. He later relocated to New York City to join the Humane Society of New York where he developed their Avian and Exotics Program.
He treats exotic animals from the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Queens and Long Island. As an exotic animal specialist, cases are often referred to him from all over New York.
Dr. Malka's professional interests include advanced anesthesia, endoscopy and minimally invasive surgery. He performs a variety of surgeries using high-end surgical endoscopy equipment that minimizes the risks associated with surgery, allowing for faster recovery.
Dr. Malka has a strong interest in wildlife conservation. He is the founder of Rift Valley Wildlife Clinics, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that cares for animals in need locally as well as in East Africa, where he volunteers much of his time providing veterinary care in rural areas. He continues to publish scientific articles on a variety of topics in avian and exotic animal medicine and lectures at international veterinary conferences, as well as other regional events. Dr. Malka is a member of AAV, AEMV, ARAV, AAZV and AVMA.
Dr. Nicolle Lofgren
Dr. Lofgren is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine, where she pursued her interest in exotic animal medicine with externships and rotations through exotics hospitals around the world. She joined LIBEVC in 2018 where she is proud to be able to pursue her professional interests, which include urology and aquatic animal medicine. Dr. Lofgren speaks Mandarin, and in her spare time enjoys skiing and spending time with her husband, two ferrets, and axolotl.
Dr. Gina Vecere
Dr. Vecere graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. While there, she participated in the Wildlife Medical Clinic, and continued to explore her interests in wildlife and exotic animal medicine through externships at zoos and hospitals as far reaching as South Africa. 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.
Gia has loved animals since before she could walk. Growing up on a farm, she learned very quickly how to work with and care for many different kinds of animals. She has been involved with animal rescue for many years, volunteering and fostering for a number of shelters and private rescues. Gia hopes to someday be a veterinarian herself and knows that the valuable experiences at LIBEVC will help her on this path. In her time off she enjoys going on hikes and spending time in nature with her husband and their two dogs as well as reading and cuddling with their two cats.
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.
Veterinary Assistant/Hospital Coordinator
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 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, 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!).
Ryan has always had a strong passion for animals for as long as she could remember, growing up with all sorts of furry, feathery and scaly friends. She is a recent graduate from Cornell University with a B.S. in Animal Science, and is currently applying to veterinary schools to pursue a career specializing in marine veterinary medicine.
In her free time, Ryan loves to visit the beach, go on bike rides, and spend time with her dog, cat, and betta fish.
Igor is studying for his veterinary license in New York while currently working as a part of our nursing staff. He is a two-time war veteran with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. During his eight years of service, he found a lot of education and training on saving human lives but not enough education about animals and their well-being. In 2018, Igor graduated from the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice as a DVM. Igor joined LIBEVC because of its diversity of animals and the high standard of treatment. His ultimate goal is to obtain education and skill to bring back to the Army where animals need him most.
Rebecca Willdigg graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 2019 with a B.S. in biology and a concentration in ecology and conservation. With a deep love for conservation, she has spent most of her life working towards protecting wildlife and endangered species. Whether it be participating in researching the Diamondback terrapin in Brooklyn during the summers, conducting her own study regarding arthropod diversity in the Belize rainforest, or directing educational tours at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Texas, she strives to advocate for exotic animals and preserve the world they live in. At LIBEVC, she looks forward to continuing learning and working toward her dream of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator and veterinary technician.
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.
Emma has always had a passion for caring for animals. She has spent countless hours volunteering at local animal shelters, shadowing at a small animal clinic, and pet-sitting for friends back home in Texas. She recently graduated from Angelo State University with a B.S. in animal science, and plans on pursuing a DVM one day. Having spent most of her time around only cats and dogs, her interest in exotic animals blossomed when she served as an intern at the San Antonio Zoo. Emma spends most of her free time with her dog Aspen, drinking coffee, hiking or curled up in bed watching Netflix.
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.