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.

  • 8485 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 San Lucas marsupial frog (Gastrotheca pseustes) tadpole collected near Pilalo, Ecuador.
  • Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) from Sierra Chincua, Mexico.
  • A St. Andrew beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis), a federally endangered rodent, in Panama City, FL. This and several other beach mice subspecies are imperiled due to beach development. (US: Endangered)
  • Picture of a row of critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) at Zoo Atlanta.
  • An Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • A red fox (Vulpes vulpes).
  • With one of the world's largest migratory routes, the red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) finds itself especially susceptible to any disruption in its feeding areas along the way. Overfishing of horseshoe crabs along the eastern coast of the US has taken away a much-needed source of energy for the species. (US: Candidate for listing)
  • 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

  • A male okapi (Okapia johnstoni) at White Oak Conservation Center.
  • Picture of an endangered North island kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • A three-month-old baby chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) named Ruben at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Listed as endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered
  • A pair of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua papua).
  • In vogue no more, the endangered grey gibbon (Hylobates muelleri muelleri) will not be seen in captivity much longer. There are now too few in captivity to keep their population sustained and too few in the wild to bring more in. With limited space and funding, zoos must make hard choices every year in deciding which species to breed and which to let go, or 'phase out'. Often zoos go with more showy species of primate to propagate, leaving the fate of the more drab species in question.
  • Picture of an endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Picture of endangered Toad mountain harlequin frogs (Atelopus certus) in amplexus at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
  • Little red flying fox (Pteropus scapulatus) from the Australian Bat Clinic and Narrow Leaf Retreat.
  • Gordon's purple mossy frogs (Theloderma gordoni) play dead at Reptile Gardens.
  • A federally endangered gray wolf (Canis lupus) at the New York State Zoo in Watertown, NY.
  • A porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • A half-day-old hatchling leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) from the wild in Bioko. This species is listed as critically endangered by IUCN, and federally endangered (US).
  • Picture of a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) at the Healesville Sanctuary in Healesville, Victoria, Australia.
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).
  • Desert cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus audubonii) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • James bond the black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) at The Living Desert.