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The Story

Joel Sartore has been a National Geographic contributing photographer for more than 20 years. Even though he loves to see animals in the wild, Joel is a strong advocate for zoos and aquariums, and admires their ability to inspire people to care about the natural world.

Over the past seven years, he has visited more than 100 zoos and captured photographs of close to 3000 different species for a project he calls The Photo Ark. His goal for this project is to use still photographs and some video to document at least one of each of the 6000+ species in zoos and aquariums over the next few years.

The portraits in The Photo Ark are done on black and white backgrounds so that the viewer can look each animal directly in the eye and quickly see that these creatures contain beauty, grace and intelligence. Clean backgrounds not only emphasize the individual’s intricate details, but also equalize the sizes of the different animals so that a tiger beetle looks to be the same size as a tiger, and a snail is every bit as amazing as an orangutan. This process stresses the equal value of all living things.

Video: Joel Sartore at TEDxDeExtinction

Joel Sartore, A photographer’s life from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.

Joel has seen first-hand that people will only save the things they love and they definitely won’t save what they don’t know exists. Essentially, the Photo Ark is a unique kind of zoo where the world’s biodiversity looks you in the eye to ask for help. For many of the species shown, even those listed as endangered, there is still time to save them. Please donate here to help us save animals from extinction.


Image copyright Joel Sartore, all rights reserved.

Joel Sartore is an author, speaker, conservationist, photojournalist and fellow of the National Geographic Society. To see more, visit Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark.