I'm Joel Sartore.

Man on a Mission:
Building the Photo Ark

I’m Joel Sartore.

Ever wonder about those wildlife photographers who risk life and limb to get the perfect shot? That’s me. I’ve spent 25 years with National Geographic—and I’ve got the stories and scars to prove it. These days my focus is on the Photo Ark, the world’s largest collection of animal studio portraits. My goal is simple: to get the public to care and save species from extinction.

  • 13,000 species photographed for the Photo Ark
     I'm Joel Sartore.
  • A modern-day Noah

  • 1 porcupine named Piper on the cover of

    National Geographic

    Photo: *Brazilian porcupine (Coendou quichua) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • 4 times chased by grizzlies
    Picture of a grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis, at Sedgewick County Zoo.
  • 300 talks given worldwide
     I'm Joel Sartore.
  • 2 spitting cobras found in camera gear
    Picture of a red spitting cobra (Naja pallida) at the St. Louis Zoo.

Speaking Engagements

“Joel never fails to dazzle.”
Known for his sense of humor and incredible stories from the field, Joel is a popular speaker with conservation, corporate, and civic groups.

Hire him to entertain and inspire your audience.

Book Joel to Speak

Recent Talks

  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  • Photo: Green grass lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) at Wroclaw Zoo.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • Two koala joeys (Phascolarctos cinereus) cling to each other, waiting to be placed with human caregivers at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland. Once they're old enough, they'll be released into the wild.
  • Nicobar pigeon, Caloenas nicobarica, at the Omaha Zoo.
  • A red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.
  • A critically endangered sumatran orangutan, Pongo abelii, at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX.
  • Photo Ark logo

    Joel is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year effort to photograph every species in human care around the globe.

    Explore the Photo Ark

  • Vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) at Conservation Fisheries. Shown is an adult with juveniles.
  • Photo: Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) at the MK Nature Center in Boise, Idaho.
  • Photo: Baby aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) named Tonks, 16 days old, at the Denver Zoo.
  • A male African lion (Panthera leo krugeri) named Mr. Big at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. This species is listed as vulnerable by IUCN.
  • A male Himalayan monal pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) at Pheasant Heaven, a private pheasant breeding center near Clinton, NC.
  • Picture of Nabire, a Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • Photo: Caterpillar of orange lacewing (Cethosia penthesilea) at Melbourne Zoo.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.
  • A portrait of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata marmorata).
  • Photo: Augustine, a mother koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) with her young ones Gus and Rupert (one is adopted and one is her own offspring) at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
  • Photo: An endangered, female Visayan tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini panini) at Negros Forest Park.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • A white-lipped island pit viper (Trimeresurus insularis) at the Woodland Park Zoo.
  • Picture of a federally endangered, female Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • Picture of a common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium.
  • A green tree python (Morelia viridis) at the Riverside Zoo.
  • A federally endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark Sweet 16 Birthday Celebration

  You’re invited to celebrate the Photo Ark’s Sweet 16 this year! While there might not be any cake or confetti, it’s still going to be a special day and we want to celebrate with you.   Since it first began with a pink, buck-toothed rodent on August 9, 2006, the Ark has come a…

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