Thomas DufresneHomepage / Future Students / Fees and Funding / Scholarships, Awards, Bursaries / B.E.S.T. Project Fund / 2019 Recipients / Thomas Dufresne Holly Benison Cassandre Dion-Larivière Carla Talmaciu Maxim Jacques Alana Devenny Sally Cunningham Thomas Dufresne Clara Lloyd Hannah Osborne-O'Donnell Loch Baillie Johnny Mills Karrie Parent Thomas DufresneWildlife Rehabilitation in the Peruvian AmazonThomas is passionate about increasing awareness for climate change and environmental protection by joining the movement for conservation. He is particularly interested in biodiversity and had been searching for volunteer positions where he would have a chance to work with and learn about different animals in the wild. When he landed on the Rainforest Awareness Rescue Education Center (RAREC) in the Peruvian Amazon, he jumped at the chance for hands-on experience working with exotic animals and learning from veterinarians in the field.“With ongoing deforestation in the Amazon, we risk losing a lot of animal species,” explains Thomas. “We need to protect the area from further damage and also work to help the animals that have already been affected by the loss of their living environment.”Thomas learned about the B.E.S.T. Fund from a friend who submitted a successful application last year, and realized that his opportunity to gain direct experience in a wildlife veterinary setting could become a reality sooner than he anticipated by submitting his proposal for consideration.“I was excited that the RAREC program would allow me to learn about so many different things,” says Thomas. “I took part in three workshops with the local vet, learned how to administer medicine to the animals, worked on training a giant river otter, built a quarantine barrier, and so much more. And the diversity of animals was incredible: six species of monkey, an ocelot, a tapir, the river otter, two manatees, and even a pair of two-toed sloths, among others.”Thomas took full advantage of the opportunity to apply the skills he had learned in his courses in the day-to-day operations of a wildlife rehabilitation centre. And while the experience definitely cemented his ambition to become a veterinarian (his plans to attend vet school after Bishop’s graduation are in the works), his time volunteering in the Amazon has actually provided him with a more nuanced vision for the future. “My goal now is to become a veterinary consultant in the field, travelling around the world in the service of protecting vulnerable animals and advocating for the conservation of their habitat,” says Thomas.