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.

  • 13,438 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: Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta syrichta) at Avilon Zoo. This animal has the second largest eyes in the world compared to brain size.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of a Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener tener) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
  • A picture of a three-month-old caracal (Caracal caracal caracal) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • 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

  • Photo: Mindanao squirrel (Sundasciurus mindanensis) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • A sunbittern (Eurypyga helias ) at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Photo: A female giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) at the Alaska SeaLife Center.
  • Blue waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) (awake or dozing off) are a common sight in Gorongosa's dry, bushy grasslands. So far, nearly 400 bird species have been documented in the park.
  • Photo: A female giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Picture of a naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable adult female white bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) with her baby, part of Pangolin Conservation, a non-profit organization in Saint Augustine, Florida.
  • An 18-year-old male tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo (Bubalus mindorensis) named Kalibasib at Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. This species is critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • Photo: Negros scops owl (Otus nigrorum) at Negros Forest Park in Bacolod City, Negros Island, the Philippines.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • Picture of a federally endangered, female Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • D.J. is an 11-month-old Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and Dirgahayu “Ayu” is an 11-month-old Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). Unfortunately, both species are critically endangered, in large part due to the palm oil crisis. Both of these juvenile primates are cared for by the Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia.
  • Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the twin giant panda cubs (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Picture of an albino porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum bruneri) named Halsey at the Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville, NE.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • 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 row of critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) at Zoo Atlanta.

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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