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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.

  • 10531 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 federally endangered female desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) named April at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard, Panthera pardus saxicolor, at the Budapest Zoo.
  • South Georgia king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus patagonicus) at the Indianapolis Zoo.
  • Photo: A red celestial eye, a fancy breed of goldfish at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
  • Picture of an endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) at the Madrid Zoo.
  • Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) at the Miller Park Zoo. These frogs sit completely still all day long and blend in with the surrounding leaves. They have the ability to change the green tint of their skin to make it harder for predators to see them.
  • 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 a critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) at the Kukrail Gharial and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, India.
  • A spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata).
  • Photo: Edward's fig parrot (Psittaculirostris edwardsii) at Loro Parque Fundacion.
  • Picture of an endangered pileated gibbon with her eight-month-old infant (Hylobates pileatus) at the Gibbon Conservation Center
  • A male okapi (Okapia johnstoni) at White Oak Conservation Center.
  • A federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) named Lucy at Tampa's Lowry Park 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 an endangered white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) at Sylvan Heights Bird Park.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of a federally endangered Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) at the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden in Guwahati, Assam, India.
  • A federally endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center.
  • A grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) with a pair of West African black-crowned cranes (Balearica pavonina pavonina) at the Columbus Zoo, Columbus, Ohio.
  • An endangered Indian rhinoceros female with calf (Rhinoceros unicornis) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Photo: Gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) at Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo, Italy.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.