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.

  • 12,138 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.
  • A critically endangered sumatran orangutan, Pongo abelii, at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Critically endangered (IUCN) Sulawesi macaques (Macaca nigra) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • Picture of a federally endangered mother and son jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL.
  • Picture of a critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) at Zealandia, in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Picture of a panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Picture of American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Photo: A Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) photographed on the grounds of the Symington Estates in Portugal.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • A St. Andrew beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis), a federally endangered rodent, in Panama City, FL. This and several other beach mice subspecies are imperiled due to beach development. (US: Endangered)
  • Picture of a Eurasian elk (Alces alces) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered pilalo tree frog (Hyloscirtus ptychodactylus) at Balsa de los Sapos.
  • Crowned iguana (Laemanctus serratus) from the Omaha Zoo.
  • Photo: Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) at the MK Nature Center in Boise, Idaho.
  • 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

  • Picture of an endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) at Healesville Sanctuary.
  • Photo: Mindanao squirrel (Sundasciurus mindanensis) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Picture of a federally endangered, female Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • Joel Sartore prepares to photograph El Segundo flower-loving fly (Rhaphiomidas terminatus terminatus). With fewer than 100 individuals left on Earth, this species is as close to extinction as you can get. This animal was thought to be extinct since the end of the 1960s but a small remnant population was discovered in the early 2000s.
  • Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) from Sierra Chincua, Mexico.
  • A portrait of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata marmorata).
  • Photo: A vulnerable dwarf pea pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) at a private collection in Gainesville, Florida.
  • Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the twin giant panda cubs (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Picture of a vulnerable male Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) at Pure Aquariums.
  • Pahu, the Bornean rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni) at the Kelian Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. This species is listed as critically endangered and the population is in decline.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at the Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Photo: A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.

Joel Sartore News

General Hospital features the Photo Ark

Well, this is something I never thought I’d do; be on a soap opera! But the entire cast and crew of @generalhospitalabc could not have been nicer, even when I flubbed my lines. I was on the set to tape an episode that features Photo Ark images that were on display in their Jerome Gallery. Such…

Get the Story