I'm Joel Sartore.

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.

  • 12,476 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: Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei) at Avilon Zoo.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • 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.
  • Oblong-winged katydids (Amblycorypha oblongifolia) at the Insectarium in New Orleans. These color variants are found in nature, though anything but green is usually eaten by predators immediately. The Insectarium has been a leader in breeding these color variants for display in the zoo community.
  • A compton tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalis vaualbum) from Cross Lake, Minnesota.
  • A captive, five-month-old mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. IUCN: Vulnerable
  • 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 Equatorial spitting cobra (Naja sumatrana miolepis) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered Peruvian woolly monkey (Lagothrix cana) at Cetas-IBAMA, a wildlife rehab center in Manaus, Brazil.
  • Photo: A central Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) at the Avilon Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
  • A St. Andrew beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis), a federally endangered rodent, in Panama City, FL. This and several other beach mice subspecies are imperiled due to beach development. (US: Endangered)
  • Picture of a Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener tener) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) at the Columbus Zoo.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) at the Taiping Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Photo: Baby aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) named Tonks, 16 days old, at the Denver Zoo.
  • Picture of a Eurasian elk (Alces alces) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Photo: A vulnerable Siamese fighting fish or betta (Betta splendens) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Photo: A proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) at the Singapore Zoo.
  • A red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.
  • Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) at the Baltimore Aquarium.
  • Picture of a brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) at the PanAmerican Conservation Association in Gamboa, Panama.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark exhibit visits Lincoln Children’s Zoo

The Photo Ark is going back to where it all started — literally.   From now until June 20th the Lincoln Children’s Zoo will be hosting a Photo Ark gallery, inviting guests to get up close and personal with images from the Ark.   Over 15 years ago the Photo Ark began at the Lincoln…

Get the Story