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.

  • 9764 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.
  • Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX. Listed as critically endangered and federally endangered.
  • A male Himalayan monal pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) at Pheasant Heaven, a private pheasant breeding center near Clinton, NC.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at the Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Yellow-streaked lory (Chalcopsitta sintillata rubrifrons) at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
  • Photo: A red celestial eye, a fancy breed of goldfish at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
  • 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

  • Vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).
  • Picture of a Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • Picture of a Damara zebra (Equus burchellii antiquorum) at the Naples Zoo.
  • Photo: A vulnerable Siamese fighting fish or betta (Betta splendens) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • Portraits of Hyloscirtus pantostictus at a captive breeding at Pontificia Universidad Catòlica in Quito, Ecuador. This is an endangered frog. This is the only one in captivity and it could be extinct in the wild. (IUCN: EN)
  • A captive, five-month-old mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. IUCN: Vulnerable
  • Photo: Augustine, a mother koala with her young ones Gus and Rupert (one is adopted and one is her own offspring) at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • Gladys, a six-week-old western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Cincinnati Zoo. Listed as critically endangered and federally endangered.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Photo: A Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) photographed on the grounds of the Symington Estates in Portugal.

Joel Sartore News

Texas Ocelot License Plate

One of our favorite ocelot images is featured on a new Texas conservation themed license plate. Proceeds benefit Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The LANWR is the largest protected area of natural habitat left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Find out more information: https://www.texasocelots.com/  

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