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.
  • Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) from Sierra Chincua, Mexico.
  • Picture of a vulnerable Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) at the Budapest Zoo.
  • Photo: EdwardÕs fig parrot (Psittaculirostris edwardsii) at Loro Parque Fundacion.
  • Joel Sartore prepares to photograph El Segundo flower-loving fly (Rhaphiomidas terminatus terminatus). With fewer than 100 individuals left on Earth, this species is as close to extinction as you can get. This animal was thought to be extinct since the end of the 1960s but a small remnant population was discovered in the early 2000s.
  • Picture of an endangered silvery Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) at the Gibbon Conservation Center.
  • Photo: Hibernating Arctic ground squirrels (Spermopilus parryii) at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
  • Picture of a federally endangered mother and son jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL.
  • Photo: Green grass lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) at Wroclaw Zoo.
  • Picture of an Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) named Todd, at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend, Kansas.
  • A red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, KS.
  • Coyote puppies (Canis latrans).
  • 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

  • Picture of Spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • 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 an Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) at the Fort Worth Zoo.
  • Photo: A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.
  • 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 endangered Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, at the Omaha Zoo.
  • Photo: A Western hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules hercules) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: Balabac (Philippine) mousedeer (Tragulus nigricans) at the Avilon Zoo. This species is endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • Two koala joeys (Phascolarctos cinereus) cling to each other, waiting to be placed with human caregivers at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland. Once they're old enough, they'll be released into the wild.
  • Photo: A Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) photographed on the grounds of the Symington Estates in Portugal.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark Madness 2021

March is here again and so it is time for the second year of the Photo Ark Madness tournament! Throughout the month of March, we’ll be featuring head to head matches of a variety of species featured in the Photo Ark. You can vote via stories on our Instagram page @joelsartore to help determine which…

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