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.

  • 11,683 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 red wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • Philippine pit viper (Trimeresurus flavomaculatus) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.
  • 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.
  • 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 Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede or Amazonian giant centipede (Scolopendra gigantea) at the National Aviary of Colombia.
  • Picture of an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • A sunbittern (Eurypyga helias ) at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) at the Vrendenberg Lab.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • 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

  • Portraits of 'Orange', the last dusky seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens). This species went extinct in 1987, after their last habitats in northeast Florida were ruined by man, from the construction of an expressway to mosquito spraying. The bird, along with 'blue' another one of the last to die, are kept in vials of alcohol in the Natural History Museum at Florida State University.
  • Photo: A grizzled tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus inustus) at a private collection in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Picture of a brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) at the PanAmerican Conservation Association in Gamboa, Panama.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • Photo: Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: Gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) at Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo, Italy.
  • South Georgia king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus patagonicus) at the Indianapolis Zoo.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of a bull elk with his antlers in velvet (Cervus canadensis) at the Oklahoma City 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.
  • Photo: A Equatorial spitting cobra (Naja sumatrana miolepis) at the Avilon Zoo.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark Madness 2021

Photo Ark Madness 2021 has come to an end. Through my Instagram @joelsartore, supporters of the Photo Ark voted on their favorite species. The top four contestants are featured in a print sale until April 9th!* 1st place is Teiku, the two-month old, federally endangered jaguar cub (Panthera onca). Traditional prints of ANI019-00507 are 30%…

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