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.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: Dragon headed katydid (Lesina intermedia) at Malacca Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary.
  • Photo: Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei) at Avilon Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered, male Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • 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.
  • A red celestial eye, a fancy breed of goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) 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

  • Photo: Green grass lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) at Wroclaw 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.
  • Crowned iguana (Laemanctus serratus) from the Omaha Zoo.
  • Photo: Harapan, a four-year-old male Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), at White Oak Conservation Center.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • A female, vulnerable African elephant (Loxodonta africana) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: A Torresian imperial pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa tarara) at the Plzen Zoo.
  • Picture of a nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Picture of a federally endangered mother and son jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL.
  • Picture of Nabire, a Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • An Andean porcupine (Coendou quichua) named Piper at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable female Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Picture of a naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Picture of a federally endangered New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) at The Animal Sanctuary, an animal rehab center in Warkworth, New Zealand.

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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