Maya - Koala Ecology researcher

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Maya - Koala Ecology researcher


Maya wasn’t always a koala detection dog. She had a life before but we don’t know much about that. This is because Maya was abandoned in a shelter without a name or a story.

That’s probably because Maya is a bit special: she is totally obsessed with balls – or as her trainer says, she has an “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” with balls.

That might have made her too much to handle for her previous owner: we’ll never know.

But what we know is that one day Maya found herself in a very critical position: she was an obsessive dog abandoned at a shelter. And sadly, dogs with “problems” that are left at a shelter often don’t get a happy ending…

Thankfully for Maya, what makes a less-than-perfect pet actually is the best quality for a detection dog. And so Maya was chosen to become a koala detection dog!

The amazing Gary Jackson, dog trainer extraordinaire, rescued her from the pound and trained her on the unusual task of finding koala poo! 

And this is how on August the 27th 2011, Maya entered Dr Romane Cristescu’s life.

Dr Cristescu is an Ecologist with a passion for koalas. She had spent many years looking for the presence of koalas as indicated by koala poos. Because where there is koala poos, surely there has been a koala! However Romane's task finding poo was very time consuming (and a little bit boring). While she spent hours, days and months, on her all fours looking for koala poo, she got the idea that potentially there was a better way, that might be four legged too!

Romane met Gary on Stradbroke Island and the connection was instantaneous: Gary knew straight away how to train a koala poo dog, and he knew he could find the dream dog.

Since then Maya and Romane have been working together. Romane designed many tests and trials to ensure Maya was efficient and also posed no threat to wildlife.

They have even published a scientific paper on the performances of Maya!

Maya is now kind of a big deal in the canine world, and she works all around the place finding koala habitat.

Image courtesy of: Marie Colibri

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