Meet Dr. Shachar Malka - Exotic Vet
Being passionate about the animals in our lives means we want to give them the best care we can. Dr. Shachar Malka, the medical director at Long Island Bird & Exotics, is just as keen on caring for your creatures as you are. Yes, love is important, but sometimes we need a medical professional to guide us in the day-to-day things, when our pet is sick, in case of emergencies or when we’re just not not sure what our exotic friend needs.
We took the time to ask Dr. Malka some questions so you can get to know him better.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you find yourself on Long Island? How long have you been in the US? What made you decide to come here?
It’s been quite a trip. After graduating vet school, I completed a specialty internship in bird and exotic animal medicine at the University of Guelph, Canada, in 2003. I then completed three additional years of advanced training at the University of California, Davis. Once I completed the residency and became a board certified specialist, I founded an Avian and Exotics specialty service at a large regional specialty hospital in Sacramento. In 2011 I relocated to New York City to join the Humane Society of New York where I developed their Avian and Exotics Program. Eventually I established LIBEVC, my third specialty practice. All told, I have more than 15 years of experience working with birds, exotic species, and wildlife.
2. Tell us about your family.
I am married to Rachel and I have a son Daniel. When I was in vet school, I rescued two dogs and later brought them with me to the States. One of them was named Dali, a beautiful Dalmatian who sadly passed away in California at the age of 11; the other one was Eya (Eeyore in English), a mixed breed I found abandoned at vet school, who later passed here in Great Neck at age 17.
3. Are exotic pets popular in Israel?
4. What pets do you have?
As a child growing up in Israel, I raised many “pets;” they were mostly rescued wildlife animals including birds, snakes, and lizards. Now my house is always full of random, abandoned pets who are either looking for a new home or end up becoming LIBEVC residents.
5. Where did you study veterinary medicine?
I studied in Israel. There was only one vet school with only about 40 students in each class.
6. Why did you decide to be a vet? And why specifically an exotic pet vet?
I always knew I wanted to work with animals. I thought I wanted to be a zoologist or a marine biologist, but after finishing my BSc in Tel Aviv, I signed up for vet school “just in case”... and I fell in love with the profession.
7. How are exotic pets different from your typical cats and dogs?
They are very different! From the kinds of illnesses they experience and the kind of veterinary care they require,to their at home habitat requirements and care needs, they are extremely unique. I have lots of information about that on my website.
8. What do you love about what you do?
It’s pretty simple. I love helping animals, helping people and educating children. We do offer education programs at LIBEVC and RVWC for exotic pets and wildlife.
9. Who is one of the most memorable pets you’ve treated?
There are a few of them… Last year we treated some seahorses, a few bats… We’ve treated bald eagles and once I even dealt with a venomous Gaboon Viper; not sure I’d welcome that experience again :).
10. What one thing do you most wish you could change about how pets are treated/animals are treated in our society?
People must come in either before or within one month of obtaining their pet so that we can educate them about the pet’s care and specific needs. After that, visits should be annual. It is incredibly dangerous to rely on information you receive from ‘Dr. Google’ or from breeders. At LIBEVC, we preach preventative medicine but we are often faced with acute emergencies due to poor education and poor care, such as incorrect diets or animals being kept in inappropriate housing.
11. What do you like to do for fun?
I love nature in all forms, and enjoy hiking, biking and scuba diving… I also enjoy traveling to Africa, where I go several times a year to volunteer.