Wesleyan Alumna Veterinarian Provides Care for Avian and Exotic Animals

Buckhannon, WV—Dr. Julia Shakeri is more than a typical veterinarian.  The 2006 Wesleyan alumna has the unique opportunity to work with the “unseen zoos” kept in the homes throughout North Haven, CT, and the surrounding community.  She is the head of the Avian and Exotic Animal Department at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine – a large, specialty-referral hospital with level-1 certification through the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society.  

Because of her passion for surgery and high standard veterinary care, Dr. Shakeri is also an associate clinician to the emergency department and performs emergency surgeries for pets in need – from “gastric bloat” in dogs to liver-lobe torsions in rabbits, she is prepared.

Dr. Shakeri is one of 135 veterinarians to be Board Certified in Avian Medicine and Surgery and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.  On the path to this prestigious certification, Dr. Shakeri graduated from The University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, and then elected 5 more years of post-doctoral training: a one-year internship in Canine and Feline Medicine and Surgery at the VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk and Shoreline, CT, a one-year internship in Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery at the VCA Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg, MD, and a three-year residency in Avian Medicine and Surgery at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Tampa, FL. 

While most of Dr. Shakeri’s patients come from private collections, during her 10-year veterinary career she has also worked closely with rescues such as the Connecticut and Florida Parrot Rescues, wildlife centers including the Sun Coast Sea Bird Sanctuary in Florida, and specialty collections from zoos and nature centers including multiple gopher tortoise rehabilitation organizations, the Lowery Park Zoo, Sea World, and Bush Gardens in Florida.  

“My goal is, and has always been, to provide the same high standard of care for avian and exotic animal species as people know and expect for their dogs and cats,” said Dr. Shakeri.  “Most animals that come to see me are ill and often critically affected, requiring advanced assessment, diagnostics, treatments, and surgery.  These animals are well loved and often considered members of the family.  I take the responsibility to care for these beloved creatures very seriously.”  

Dr. Shakeri’s path to Wesleyan began with encouragement to visit the campus from her Aunt Jane and late Uncle Peter Thompson, whose son Matthew died in a tragic accident as a student at WVWC.  As a native to the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia Metropolitan Are area, she quickly fell in love with the country roads and hills of West Virginia, Audra State Park, and comforts foods like biscuits and gravy and donuts at The Donut Shop.  

“I was very well prepared by my Wesleyan education to review and critically evaluate the current literature, conduct experiments in accordance with the scientific method, and write my own papers upon graduation,” said Dr. Shakeri. “Wesleyan provided me with a solid foundation in the chemical, anatomical, cellular, and physiological sciences which was instrumental to my veterinary didactic education.” As a Wesleyan student, Dr. Shakeri’s veterinarian experience began at the Buckhannon Animal Clinic and while working with miniature horses at Hodges Miniature Horse Farm.  

“My classes at Wesleyan were rigorous and my professors were not looking to give everyone A’s,” she noted.  “They molded us into critical investigators, which was necessary in order to enter and thrive in the highly competitive, and rapidly progressing, world of biological science. I will be eternally grateful to my professors Dr. Luke Huggins, Dr. Ben Whitlock, Dr. Kathy Gregg, Dr. Carl Colson, Dr. Jeanne Sullivan, and Dr. Allen Hamner for the education delivered. I will never forget the kindness of the late Joanne Michael in the dining center.  She was the embodiment of genuine kindness and love.”

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