The staff of The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine celebrates the sacred bond between exotic pets and their owners. We strive to protect this relationship by nurturing an open, honest alliance with our clients and adhering only to the highest ethical and medical standards befitting these magnificent companions.
Avian and Exotic Veterinary Team
Alexandra Wilson, DVM, joined the practice in 2007. She received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Oberlin College and worked as a research scientist before pursuing veterinary medicine. Dr. Wilson studied at Ross University and Louisiana State University where she was able to work in one of the best exotic animal departments in the country. After completing her veterinary degree, Dr. Wilson became an associate veterinarian at a private practice in Washington State. In addition to her passion for exotic animal medicine, she also enjoys soft tissue and orthopedic surgery. Dr. Wilson shares her home with a naughty rabbit named Captain Larry and his girlfriend Greta, plus a tarantula named Omblik.
Jessica Grodio, DVM, PhD, ABVP (Avian) began work with us in early 2016. She attended prestigious Cornell University where she obtained a BS in Biological Sciences as well as her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Loving research, academia, and avian medicine, Dr. Grodio also earned a PhD from Cornell in Comparative Biomedical Sciences, for which she studied Mycoplasma gallisepticum, a bacterial species that causes disease in finches and has greatly impacted wild bird populations across the country.
After receiving her DVM degree, Dr. Grodio worked with avian and exotic animal patients at Cornell’s exotic pet service. She then decided to pursue ABVP board certification in avian medicine and was accepted to a rigorous two-year residency in avian/exotic medicine and surgery at South Wilton Veterinary Group in Wilton, CT. While studying for her board exams, she worked in the avian and exotic pet service at The Animal Medical Center in NYC and finally found her home with us!
In addition to her experience with exotic pet species, Dr. Grodio volunteered her time helping sick and injured wildlife for eight years at Cornell’s Wildlife Health Center. She has also worked with a variety of zoos and nature centers in the Northeast. Here she is with her beloved cockatiel, Pumpkin!
Board certification is given to veterinarians who have completed additional training in one of the following categories: Avian practice, Exotic Companion Mammal Practice, Reptile and Amphibian practice. They have also fulfilled the stringent requirements mandated by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). The ABVP is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association to provide board certifications in ten species categories.
For more information visit: ABVP Specialty.
Veterinary Nursing Staff and Management
Lorelei Tibbetts, LVT, VTS(Clinical Practice-Exotic Companion Animal) Practice Manager
Lorelei has been with the hospital as the practice manager and nursing team member since it opened in 2004. Originally from Boston, she received her BA in journalism from Boston University. Lorelei’s lifelong love of animals, especially birds, eventually pulled her away from writing into the field of veterinary medicine. After graduating from the Veterinary Technology program at Mercy College in 2001, Lorelei has been working exclusively with birds and exotic pets. In addition to being an outstanding nurse with many years experience, Lorelei’s special interest in exotic animals has allowed her to contribute to the field as an educator. She has been an adjunct teacher of avian and exotic medicine at a local veterinary technology program, plus lectured at several national veterinary symposiums. She also was a founding member and is current Vice-Chair of the Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice (AVTCP). The AVTCP is the ninth officially recognized veterinary technician specialty (VTS) and is modeled after the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She shares her home with a Jenday Conure,a Double Yellow Headed Amazon, and a Green Wing Macaw.
Kristine Castillo, LVT –Treatment Room Supervisor
Kristine earned her BS in veterinary technology from Mercy College in 2011 and joined our team before she even finished school! We first met her when she elected to undergo a rigorous 6 month externship with us in her final year of college. After getting a taste of how amazing exotic pets were, she knew she was hooked! Her heart belongs to all things ferret- but recently, as often happens, she has been bonding with the large psittacines here… we shall see if her family will grow!
Anita Laperuta, LVT
Anita found us when she applied here as an intern from Mercy College, looking for a hospital that specialized in exotics. She completed a semester long program here, after which we decided we could not let her go! She finished school, earned her bachelor’s degree as well as her New York State LVT, and has been working here since. Her extended animal family includes a rabbit, 2 rats, a dog, cat, and newest addition of 2 budgies!
Vicente Vergara-Wilson, LVT
Vicente is a veterinarian in Chile who came to NYC to support his wife while she is in graduate school. In Chile, he has worked as a veterinarian with non-traditional species (exotic animals) since 2014, and before that he worked with exotics for many years as a medical student. Being here for only a short time, he is unable to obtain his veterinary license to practice here, however he has been able to obtain his LVT to work as a veterinary technician! So we are thrilled to have him as part of our medical team.
Chaya Goodman, LVT
Chaya has been working and volunteering in the veterinary field for many years, including spending several weekends volunteering here with us when she was in nursing school. Her studies ultimately took her to SUNY Delhi, where she excelled and graduated at the top of her class. She has rescued several animals, and is particularly fond of the fuzzy little rodents-owning rats, mice, and hamsters. She also loves birds and is the proud owner of a darling ring- neck dove. Chaya’s lifelong dream has been to work as a licensed veterinary technician with exotic pets, and we are excited to have her as part of our team!
Summer – Veterinary Assistant
As we were looking for someone to help keep the animals and hospital clean, we came across a caring, fun, animal loving student named Summer! She comes to the hospital every day after school to make sure the hospital is clean for both the clients and the pets. She also helps the nursing staff make sure all patients are clean, fed properly, and have fresh water. Summer lives with her family, which includes 3 cats and 2 new rabbits she adopted from us. Her goal is to get into college and study drawing!
Elena- Veterinary Assistant
Elena was born in rural Santiago, Dominican Republic, whereshe grew up on a farm with goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, and her best buds: twoRottweilers named Dracula and Debora. After moving to the US and earning herdegree in English from Barnard College, she worked in publishing for two years.When she realized that she felt more purposeful and happier while volunteeringwith animals, she decided to make the big switch and re-enrolled in college tofinish her pre-vet requirements. She joined the CAEM team shortly after, andalthough there is a special place in her heart for parrots such as her ownAfrican Greys, she is everyday more and more enamored with reptiles.
Front Desk Staff
After studying Human Behavior at Long Island University, Tracy decided to follow one of her passions and attend Culinary School. Our “resident chef” says that working at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine allows her the opportunity to combine both of her passions: the culinary arts and love for animals. Whether preparing a gourmet meal for her family and friends or for a catering job, Tracy always shares some of her famous healthy treats with the rest of the staff!
Raquel - Receptionist
Raquel is a native Big Apple citizen, born and raised on the lower east side. She is a perfect fit for our reception staff because she has a sincere desire to help people, and knows that by helping animals, she is doing exactly that. She has worked in customer service for many years in a variety of capacities, and is now a student at Hunter College where she hopes to receive her degree in education. She grew up with a menagerie of pets, which today include a feisty chihuahua and an even feistier Amazon Parrot!
Juan is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin where he was on the Dean’s Honor List and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Conservation Environmental Sciences. Intent on fulfilling his dream to become a veterinarian, Juan has been extremely active in the animal field, doing everything from research projects on tree frogs to working at a veterinary hospital as an assistant through college. He is currently applying to vet schools all over the World, and as much as we appreciate his work here, he will most likely be off to vet school before long!