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.

  • 12,476 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 (IUCN) and federally endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) at the Phoenix Zoo.
  • Picture of two endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) from the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of an endangered western red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • The talons of a South American great horned owl (Bubo virginianus nacurutu) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • Picture of a critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) at Zealandia, in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Photo: Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) at the Newport Aquarium.
  • A picture of a three-month-old caracal (Caracal caracal caracal) at the Columbus 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.
  • Vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX.
  • Picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
  • Picture of a row of critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) at the Omaha 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: Green grass lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) at Wroclaw Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • A pair of four-week-old old Asian leopard cats, (Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis). These two were found abandoned by their mother in a burning field and brought to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a wildlife rehab center in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
  • Photo: Edward's fig parrot (Psittaculirostris edwardsii) at Loro Parque Fundacion.
  • 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.
  • Picture of a 10-week-old fennec fox kit (Vulpes zerda) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • A sunbittern (Eurypyga helias ) at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • 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.
  • Picture of Spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • A picture of a Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) photographed on the grounds of the Symington Estates in Portugal.
  • Picture of a diablito, also known as a little devil poison frog (Oophaga sylvatica) Bilsa, Ecuador locality, from a private collection.
  • A male Himalayan monal pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) at Pheasant Heaven, a private pheasant breeding center near Clinton, NC.
  • The critically-endangered orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of the rarest birds in the world with fewer than 50 left in the wild.
  • Photo: Baby aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) named Tonks, 16 days old, at the Denver Zoo.
  • Photo: Buffy laughingthrush (Garrulax berthemyi) in Arona, Tenerife, Spain.
  • Picture of an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark exhibit visits Lincoln Children’s Zoo

The Photo Ark is going back to where it all started — literally.   From now until June 20th the Lincoln Children’s Zoo will be hosting a Photo Ark gallery, inviting guests to get up close and personal with images from the Ark.   Over 15 years ago the Photo Ark began at the Lincoln…

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