(CBS Local)– Los Angeles resident Doug Thron has been an aerial cinematographer for almost three decades and it wasn’t until recently that he realized that the drones he operates could be used to save animals around the world. Thron used his drones to film the devastation left in the wake of the fires in Paradise, California and that’s what inspired him to join the effort to rescue animals like dogs, cats, horses and even koalas from around the world.
Thron’s work has been turned into a new six-episode series called “Doug To The Rescue” on Curiosity Stream. CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith spoke with Thron about what it was like to put this show together, the time he saved some koalas in Australia and how his technology is saving the lives of animals around the world.
“I’m super excited to show off this technology and what the drones can do,” said Thron. “I go to these natural disasters and there are hundreds of animals that need to be rescued. Frequently in the past, rescue groups weren’t able to find the animals or get to them quickly enough.”
“Now using the infrared drones with the zoom lens and spotlights, it’s like you have this emergency SWAT team from the sky dropping in on these animals and we can save many more animals using this. It’s really exciting and we are rescuing countless animals with drones.”
Thron says he has been blown away by the impact of an infrared scope on a drone and how powerful the technology is in these life-threatening rescue missions. He hopes that the technology can be used to rescue pets during natural disasters and also one day endangered species around the globe.
“I went to Australia and was there for about eight months rescuing countless koalas after the fires out there,” said Thron. “Then I did population studies on the animals, so that the World Wildlife Fund can pressure the government to protect these animals and areas and set them aside so koalas don’t get endangered.”
“I think people will be surprised by how efficient the drone is at finding animals. “It’s just unbelievable because as long as you have some sort of heat signature of an animal from its body heat, you can basically find the animals extremely quickly and rescue groups can go right to them. I want to have an animal rescue ranch where animals are available for people to come adopt. Moving forward, I want to train other drone pilots on how to pilot these infrared drones. It’s a huge skill and it’s not easy. These drones are about $40,000 and you have to fly them and navigate them at night in and out of tree canopies and around power lines.”