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.
  • Picture of an endangered silvery Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) at the Gibbon Conservation Center.
  • An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at the Miller Park Zoo.
  • A portrait of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata marmorata).
  • Picture of a federally endangered New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) at The Animal Sanctuary, an animal rehab center in Warkworth, New Zealand.
  • Photo: Caterpillar of orange lacewing (Cethosia penthesilea) at Melbourne Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable (IUCN) and federally endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) at the Columbus 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

  • Picture of a vulnerable adult female white bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) with her baby, part of Pangolin Conservation, a non-profit organization in Saint Augustine, Florida.
  • Picture of an endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) at Healesville Sanctuary.
  • Photo: Negros scops owl (Otus nigrorum) at Negros Forest Park in Bacolod City, Negros Island, the Philippines.
  • Picture of a 10-week-old fennec fox kit (Vulpes zerda) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Picture of a common genet (Genetta genetta) at the Conservators center.
  • Photo: Single wattled cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus unappendiculatus) at Avilon Zoo.
  • Picture of a critically endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) at the Kukrail Gharial and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, India.
  • Photo: Harapan, a four-year-old male Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), at White Oak Conservation Center.
  • Picture of tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus) at the Wellington Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae) at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Photo: A juvenile little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis ruficollis) at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue.
  • Picture of an Arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus, at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend, Kansas.
  • Picture of a naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Blue waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) (awake or dozing off) are a common sight in Gorongosa's dry, bushy grasslands. So far, nearly 400 bird species have been documented in the park.

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…

Get the Story