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.

  • 11,653 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 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 critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • Photo: Baby aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) named Tonks, 16 days old, at the Denver Zoo.
  • Picture of a flock of scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber) at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas.
  • Photo: A male Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) at the Alaska Zoo.
  • Blue waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) (awake or dozing off) are a common sight in Gorongosa's dry, bushy grasslands. So far, nearly 400 bird species have been documented in the park.
  • Photo: A killer whale also called an orca whale, Orcinus orca, named Kayla at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL. Kayla is 27 years old, weighs 5,600 pounds and is 19 feet long.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of two endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) from the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Photo: Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus pardinoides) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • Portraits of 'Orange', the last dusky seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens). This species went extinct in 1987, after their last habitats in northeast Florida were ruined by man, from the construction of an expressway to mosquito spraying. The bird, along with 'blue' another one of the last to die, are kept in vials of alcohol in the Natural History Museum at Florida State University.
  • A West Usambara two-horned chameleon (Kinyongia multituberculata) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered six-month-old red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) named Cinnamon at the Virginia Zoo.
  • Picture of a four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps) at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
  • Photo: Mediterranean jelly or fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) at Loro Parque's aquarium in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain
  • Picture of a vulnerable four-toed jerboa (Allactaga tetradactyla) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • A male okapi (Okapia johnstoni) at White Oak Conservation Center.
  • A captive, five-month-old mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. IUCN: Vulnerable
  • A federally endangered male Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus). This sparrow was photographed inside of a shooting tent at the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, one of the last examples of Florida dry prairie which is an essential habitat for species like this one.
  • A compton tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalis vaualbum) from Cross Lake, Minnesota.
  • Photo: A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.

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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