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.

  • 11,494 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.
  • Picture of Rajah, an endangered, male white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae) at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • A red celestial eye, a fancy breed of goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
  • A critically endangered and federally endangered male Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) named Lamydoc, at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Lamydoc was born in 1963.
  • A female, vulnerable African elephant (Loxodonta africana) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • 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: A vulnerable dwarf pea pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) at a private collection in Gainesville, Florida.
  • D.J. is an 11-month-old Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and Dirgahayu “Ayu” is an 11-month-old Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). Unfortunately, both species are critically endangered, in large part due to the palm oil crisis. Both of these juvenile primates are cared for by the Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia.
  • Picture of a Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Photo: An aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) named Endora at Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • Picture of a brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) at the PanAmerican Conservation Association in Gamboa, Panama.
  • Picture of an endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered, male Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • An endangered baby Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross (Pongo pygmaeus x abelii) at the Houston Zoo.
  • An endangered Indian rhinoceros female with calf (Rhinoceros unicornis) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • The talons of a South American great horned owl (Bubo virginianus nacurutu) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • Picture of an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered and federally endangered, female South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • Picture of a male Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Picture of American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
  • Photo: Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) at the MK Nature Center in Boise, Idaho.
  • Photo: Three fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Nicobar pigeon, Caloenas nicobarica, at the Omaha Zoo.

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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