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.
  • Picture of a row of critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Photo: Horsfield's tarsier (Cephalopachus bancanus borneanus) at Taman Safari.
  • Oblong-winged katydids (Amblycorypha oblongifolia) at the Insectarium in New Orleans. These color variants are found in nature, though anything but green is usually eaten by predators immediately. The Insectarium has been a leader in breeding these color variants for display in the zoo community.
  • 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.
  • Photo: Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus pardinoides) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • 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

  • Picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
  • Picture of a Plain pigeon (Patagioenas inornata) at the Parque Zoologico Nacional in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • A bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) named Bensar at the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center.
  • Picture of a vulnerable male Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) at Pure Aquariums.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at the Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Picture of near threatened silvery langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) at the Lowry Park Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) at the Kukrail Gharial and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, India.
  • 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.
  • Photo: A vulnerable Siamese fighting fish or betta (Betta splendens) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • Picture of Spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • A red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.
  • 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.
  • A northern red fan parrot (Deroptyus accipitrinus accipitrinus) at the Houston Zoo. This unusual Amazon basin parrot has a crown of brightly-colored head feathers it raises when it feels threatened or aggressive.
  • A picture of a three-month-old caracal (Caracal caracal caracal) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • Photo: A juvenile little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis ruficollis) at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.
  • A picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.

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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