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Photo: Joel Sartore on assignment at Sierra Chincua (Chincua Mountain) in Mexico, a wintering spot for monarch butterflies.

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.

  • 10531 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.
  • Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) at the Miller Park Zoo. These frogs sit completely still all day long and blend in with the surrounding leaves. They have the ability to change the green tint of their skin to make it harder for predators to see them.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) at the Phoenix Zoo.
  • Picture of Nabire, a Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • A unique color variant of an eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) named "Blondie" at the Saint Louis Zoo. When she came from North Carolina to the zoo as a juvenile, she only had a couple of orange spots. Over the past 12 years her color has morphed into this very showy orange.
  • Photo: A vulnerable Siamese fighting fish or betta (Betta splendens) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Picture of a male Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Picture of Rajah, an endangered, male white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) at the Madrid Zoo.
  • A giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at Zoo Atlanta. This endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered species is native to China.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • A captive, five-month-old mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. IUCN: Vulnerable
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).
  • Picture of an American great egret (Ardea alba egretta) at the Saint Louis 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

  • An endangered Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) at the Houston Zoo.
  • An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
  • Picture of an endangered sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • A red fox (Vulpes vulpes vulpes) at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.
  • Picture of a vulnerable secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) at the Toronto Zoo.
  • Photo: Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus pardinoides) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered Black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • A green tree python (Morelia viridis) at the Riverside Zoo.