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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.

  • 11,177 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.
  • An endangered Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) at the Houston Zoo.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae).
  • An endangered Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, at the Omaha Zoo.
  • 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.
  • Picture of American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • A bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) named Bensar at the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center.
  • 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 sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of an endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) at the Madrid Zoo.
  • A green tree python (Morelia viridis) at the Riverside Zoo.
  • Like all gibbons, the gray gibbon has unusually long arms which are used to move through trees and to forage. This endangered species is being 'phased out' at zoos because there are too few in captivity to keep bloodlines vital and the species isn't showy.
  • Picture of a critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) at Zealandia, in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Denver Zoo.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the twin giant panda cubs (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Photo: An endangered flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) at the Taiping Zoo.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) wolverine (Gulo gulo) named Stinky, a candidate species for federal protection.
  • A dhole (Cuon alpinus lepturus) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Picture of an albino porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) named Halsey at the Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville, NE.
  • An endangered golden poison dart frog or terrible poison dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) at the Rolling Hills zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) named "Presley" at the Duke Lemur Center.
  • A giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at Zoo Atlanta. This endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered species is native to China.
  • A purple-banded sunbird (Nectarinia bifasciata microhychus) at Chitengo Camp, in Gorongosa National Park.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark Special Premieres October 17th and 24th

at 10/9c on Nat Geo WILD  In the two-hour PHOTO ARK special, tag along with Joel Sartore, Founder of National Geographic Photo Ark. His quest to photograph every species living in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries takes him around the world. He has photographed over 10,000 species and goes to great lengths to photograph thousands more,…

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