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.

  • 11,926 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 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).
  • An Andean porcupine (Coendou quichua) named Piper at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • A male African lion (Panthera leo krugeri) named Mr. Big at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. This species is listed as vulnerable by IUCN.
  • 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.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • A portrait of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata marmorata).
  • A male Himalayan monal pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) at Pheasant Heaven, a private pheasant breeding center near Clinton, NC.
  • 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

  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • Picture of Nabire, a Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • Photo: A central Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) at the Avilon Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
  • 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.
  • An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California.
  • Photo: Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus pardinoides) at Parque Jaime Duque near Bogota, Colombia.
  • Photo: Dragon headed katydid (Lesina intermedia) at Malacca Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary.
  • A compton tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalis vaualbum) from Cross Lake, Minnesota.
  • Photo: Single wattled cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus unappendiculatus) at Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered pilalo tree frog (Hyloscirtus ptychodactylus) at Balsa de los Sapos.
  • A three-month-old baby chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) named Ruben at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Listed as endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered
  • Picture of a 10-week-old fennec fox kit (Vulpes zerda) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Photo: A male Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) at the Alaska Zoo.

Joel Sartore News

Announcing the release of Wonders and Photo Ark ABC

  Joel’s latest books, Photo Ark Wonders: Celebrating Diversity in the Animal Kingdom and Photo Ark ABC: An Animal Alphabet in Poetry and Pictures, will both be released on October 19th, 2021. On a mission to photograph all the animal species in human care, Photo Ark Wonders, now delights us with more photographs, this time selected…

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