Cinematographer Uses Drones To Rescue Animals Around The World—And He Adopted The First One He Found

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Not much makes us a bigger fan of someone than finding out they're dedicated to rescuing animals in need—much like Rachael is with The Rachael Ray Foundation.

Meet Douglas Thron from California, an animal lover who uses infrared drones to rescue animals around the world.

douglas thron

"Ever since I was a little kid, I loved animals," Douglas explains. "When I was about four years old, I'd watch the show called 'Wild Kingdom' and I wanted to be a wildlife cinematographer. I moved from Texas to come to California to go to school for that."

When he arrived in California, he started using photography as an activism tool, showing the beauty of the forest there, as well as the destruction of it. That's how he got started in aerial cinematography—before anyone really knew what drones were.

"When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, I went to go volunteer with the Sea Shepherd Marine Conservation Organization, but I wasn't planning on necessarily rescuing animals. I went there to deliver aid," Douglas explains. 

Little did he know what he'd find when he started flying his drone.

"I was flying the drone over and then was starting to find dogs with it, but they were hard to find because they were buried in the debris frequently," Douglas says. "Once I put the infrared camera on the drone, we were able to find so [many] more animals. [With] the infrared technology, you can pinpoint where the animal is very quickly by finding the heat signature of the animal."

That's when he met Duke, his new best friend.

"The first dog that I rescued, named Duke, actually was very sentimental to me and was never claimed," he goes on. "I ended up adopting him."

douglas thron

And Douglas' work didn't stop in the Bahamas.

"I was literally still in the Bahamas and I was seeing video footage of what was happening in Australia with these scattered fires," he explains. "I realized that I could really help save countless koalas with this technology as well, so I went directly to Australia to rescue koalas."

douglas thron

"We follow the weather and the storms really closely," Douglas goes on. Whenever there's a big disaster, we go out, and there have been countless hurricanes and fires. I pretty much have been on the road for almost two years nonstop."

Once Douglas finds the animals, he feeds them, rehabilitates them and brings them to local animal shelters that foster them and help them find loving homes.

"In the beginning, this was all primarily self-financed," he explains. Douglas now relies on fundraising and his show, "Doug To The Rescue," to help cover the expenses of his life-saving work. "It's not a money making thing, that's for sure," he says, "but I've pretty much dedicated my life to saving and rescuing animals."

Rach was so touched by Douglas' work, she hopes to contribute to his efforts with The Rachael Ray Foundation.

For more info on Douglas' rescues, you can check out his show, streaming on CuriosityStream this summer. 

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