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.

  • 13,289 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 sunbittern (Eurypyga helias ) at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Photo: Edward's fig parrot (Psittaculirostris edwardsii) at Loro Parque Fundacion.
  • An endangered baby Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross (Pongo pygmaeus x abelii) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of a nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
  • A federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) named Lucy at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
  • Photo: Buffy laughingthrush (Garrulax berthemyi) in Arona, Tenerife, Spain.
  • Photo: An endangered, female Visayan tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini panini) at Negros Forest Park.
  • Photo: Single wattled cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus unappendiculatus) at Avilon Zoo.
  • A male common genet (Genetta genetta), named Little Guy at the Conservators center.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable four-toed jerboa (Allactaga tetradactyla) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at the Miller Park 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

  • Picture of an endangered golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) at the Dallas World Aquarium.
  • Photo: Horsfield's tarsier (Cephalopachus bancanus borneanus) at Taman Safari.
  • Picture of a federally endangered mother and son jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL.
  • Photo: Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: Caterpillar of orange lacewing (Cethosia penthesilea) at Melbourne Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable female Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Picture of a panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of a curl-crested aracari (Pteroglossus beauharnaesii) at the Dallas World Aquarium.
  • Photo: Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • The talons of a South American great horned owl (Bubo virginianus nacurutu) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • Picture of near threatened silvery langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) at the Lowry Park Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered pilalo tree frog (Hyloscirtus ptychodactylus) at Balsa de los Sapos.

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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