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.

  • 11,230 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 male Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure near Salina, KS.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) at the Gladys Porter Zoo.
  • A captive, five-month-old mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. IUCN: Vulnerable
  • Picture of a 10-week-old fennec fox kit (Vulpes zerda) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Photo: A female giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK.
  • A picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
  • A portrait of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata marmorata).
  • 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 vulnerable male African lion (Panthera leo krugeri) named Mr. Big at the Omaha Zoo.
  • A federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) named Lucy at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
  • A pair of blue poison dart frogs (Dendrobates azureus) at Reptile Gardens.
  • Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of a male Guianan cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola) at the Dallas World Aquarium.
  • Picture of a Eurasian elk (Alces alces) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) at Zealandia, in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of crested wood partridges (Rollulus rouloul) at Sylvan Heights Bird Park.
  • 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).
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).
  • Picture of an endangered sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of twin three month old endangered red pandas (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.

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,…

Get the Story