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.

  • 11,309 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

  • Photo: Pahu, the Bornean rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni) at the Sumatran Rhino Rescue Center in Indonesia.
  • A compton tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalis vaualbum) from Cross Lake, Minnesota.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • Photo: Single wattled cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus unappendiculatus) at Avilon Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) named "Presley" at the Duke Lemur Center.
  • A vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: A juvenile little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis ruficollis) at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.
  • Photo: A Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) photographed on the grounds of the Symington Estates in Portugal.
  • Picture of a male Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
  • Philippine pit viper (Trimeresurus flavomaculatus) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • 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.
  • Photo: A grizzled tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus inustus) at a private collection in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Critically endangered (IUCN) Sulawesi macaques (Macaca nigra) at the Omaha Zoo.
  • A critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered red wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) at the Great Plains Zoo.
  • Picture of a four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps) at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
  • Photo: A naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) at the Lincoln Children's Zoo.