Meet Our Avian & Exotic Veterinarians & Staff

Meet Our Avian & Exotic Veterinarians & Staff

Our team in Grapevine is a group of people whose veterinary medicine is fueled by a love of animals. We have extensive experience in exotic animal care and we thoroughly enjoy the diversity and complexity of these amazing animals. You can meet our team of exotic veterinarians and support staff below, but we’d love to see you! Give us a call to schedule an appointment and meet us in person!

Our Avian & Exotic Veterinarians

Dr. Lauren Thielen, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)

Dr. Lauren Thielen graduated from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. From there, she completed an internship at Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital in Florida and then a 2-year avian residency at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in New York. After finishing her residency, Dr. Thielen returned to Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital to practice full-time, then moved to Texas for a new career with Texas Avian & Exotics Hospital. Dr. Thielen became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian practice in 2020.

She is the marketing committee co-chair for the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at University of Miami Avian and Wildlife Laboratory, providing case consultations to veterinarians around the nation. Dr. Thielen is also featured on the television shows "Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER" and "Dr. T, Lone Star Vet" (her own show!) on NatGeo WILD, which is her platform for educating people all over the world about exotic animal care.

In her free time, she enjoys training jiu-jitsu, hiking, and traveling. She also loves spending time with her pets: cats Theo and Kit-10, rabbits Benjamin and Livvy, and bronze wing Pionous parrot, Evie.

Exotic Veterinarians in Grapevine: Dr. Thielen
Exotic Veterinarian in Grapevine: Dr. Hoppes

Dr. Sharman Hoppes, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)

Dr. Sharman Hoppes is a Clinical Professor in the zoological medicine service at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Dr. Hoppes earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Oklahoma State University in 1993. Prior to that, she worked as a registered nurse for 10 years caring for human patients. She completed an avian medicine and surgery residency in 1999 at North Carolina State University and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian practice in 2000.

She is a past-President (2012-2013) of the Association of Avian Veterinarians and is also an active member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Dr. Hoppes joined TAMU in 2006 and her research interests include avian analgesia, avian behavior and enrichment and Avian Bornavirus in parrots through her work at the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center.

Dr. Jordan Gentry

Dr. Jordan Gentry graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. He completed a Zoological Medicine Internship at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and then an American College of Zoological Medicine Residency at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. During his internship and residency, Dr. Gentry worked with collections at Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, Dallas Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, and Cameron Park Zoo. He is pursuing diplomate status in the American College of Zoological Medicine.

After his residency, Dr. Gentry was a staff veterinarian at the Houston SPCA and Wildlife Center of Texas. He later served as chief veterinarian for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter before returning to private practice to pursue exotic animal medicine. Dr. Gentry has special interests in avian orthopedics, endoscopic procedures, surgery, and herd health. When away from the hospital, he enjoys time with his family (his wife, Lauren, who is also a veterinarian and their son, Race) and pets (four dogs, four cats, two birds, a MiliiGold Macaw and Galah, and assorted reptiles and arachnids).


Dr. Katie Dowling

Dr. Katie Dowling graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. As a veterinary student, she worked with the Nashville Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium, Toledo Zoo, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia to gain more experience working with exotic species. After veterinary school, Dr. Dowling completed a Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, prior to starting an internship position with Texas Avian & Exotic Hospital.

When working with exotic species, Dr. Dowling has interests in population medicine, preventative medicine, and nutrition. In her free time, Dr. Dowling enjoys hiking, trivia night, baking, and spending time with her cat, Captain.

Dr. Natalie Antinoff, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)

Dr. Antinoff obtained her DVM from the University of Wisconsin in 1992 and continued on to do an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, followed by a residency in avian and exotic pet medicine and surgery. Following ABVP board certification in 1997, she established the first specialty exotics practice operating as part of a referral center in the country. She has authored chapters and articles in veterinary texts and journals, and has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally to veterinarians and pet owners. She served as a consultant for online veterinary groups, providing interactive information to veterinarians nationwide, and has served on the editorial boards of several veterinary journals. She has also mentored over 25 veterinary interns in exotic pet medicine.

In her spare time, Dr. Antinoff enjoys travel, rollerblading, and bicycling, often combining all of these in a trip! She also loves spending time at home with her pets – Mojo, a terrier mix; Louie, a Miniature Dachshund, and Kaiya, a Great Dane; Zephyr and Zuzu, two cats; and Gracie, the African grey and Big, the macaw.


Our Veterinary Staff


Shelby, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Technical Director

Shelby’s passion for animals was instilled in her at a very young age. Her toddler years pretending to be Mowgli led to a bachelor's degree in animal sciences, graduating from the veterinary technology program of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Although her passion for animals was evident, her exotic animal interests peaked after her externship at the Birmingham Zoo. Upon graduating in 2016, she dove deeper into exotic medicine as a licensed veterinary technician at Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in the zoological medicine service.

Outside of work, Shelby competes in bodybuilding, enjoys time with her family, and loves to eat. She is married to her husband, Rashad, and they share a home with six loving pets; three dogs, Cheyenne, Koda, Leah, and three cats, Charles, Binx, and Briar also known as “Kitty.”

Tonya, Senior Technician

Tonya grew up in Dallas where she loved animals from a young age, from playing with goats at her grandparents' farm to the small mammals, reptiles, cats, and dogs she had as a child. She comes to us with 14 years of experience and six years being at an emergency hospital. Tonya is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with a love for helping birds. Outside of work she likes going paddle boarding and hiking when it is cool enough. She has three dogs, three cats, and a ferret of her own.


Meredith, Registered Veterinary Technician

From a very early age, Meredith knew she had a passion for helping those who could not speak for themselves. She was born and raised in Southern California and grew up with dogs, cats, small mammals, and exotics. Her love of animals and veterinary medicine led her to pursue a bachelor's degree in animal science and later on, an associate degree in veterinary technology. Throughout her 12 years as a veterinary technician, she has worked with small animals and exotics, including in the zoo field. She just recently moved to Texas to continue to dedicate herself to the care of exotics.

In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, reading, painting, and playing piano. She also loves spending time with her two cats, desert tortoise, and yellow-headed amazon bird.


Jacob, Veterinary Technician

Jacob grew up here in Dallas with multiple pet bearded dragons and an interest in reptile wildlife. After graduating high school a year early, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served four years, being stationed in Japan, Guam, and North Carolina, respectively. With his enlistment over, he realized a career without animals is no career at all, so he broke into the veterinary field as soon as possible. He has since worked in wildlife rehabilitation, a dog and cat day practice, and is now with our family here! Outside of work, Jacob enjoys playing music, cooking, and taking care of his pets. He currently has his childhood bearded dragon, Falaffel, his cat, Kara, and snakes, Kuni and Mr. Banana.

Nikki, Certified Veterinary Technician

Nikki has been a veterinary technician for over 21 years. Nikki knew she wanted to be a technician when she was pregnant with her oldest son and read an article about this line of work. She became certified in veterinary technology and specifically studied and trained in reptile husbandry and medicine while pursuing her bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She has owned and worked with exotics for most of her adult life. Nikki has worked in the zoological field for almost 10 years and hand-reared primates, otters, and little blue penguins. Nikki owns horses, mini cows, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, a sulcata, a terrapin, salamanders, and dogs. Nikki enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys and riding horses.


Brittney, Receptionist

Brittney has always had a passion for animals starting at a very young age. In high school, she would house-sit a variety of pets with her focus being horses, and she also volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center whenever she could. She comes with experience in equine medicine and worked as a receptionist for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter for four years before pursuing a career in exotics here at Texas Avian. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys going on adventures with her dog, Daisy, and playing video games.