If you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift to give this season, kids and adults of all ages will fall in love with The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. Not only is this book a stunning collection of over 6,000 species marking the halfway point for Joel’s project, but it also includes animals from right here at the Houston Zoo!
In addition, Chris Holmes, Houston Zoo Assistant Curator of Birds, is featured in this book as a conservation hero for his work with critically endangered blue-billed curassows. Unique to Colombia, there are only a few hundred of these birds left in the wild due to habitat destruction and hunting. One way to make sure blue-billed curassows don’t go extinct is to make sure this species and its’ genetic diversity is represented in zoos. This ensures that if there are any major decreases in the wild, there is a genetically diverse population that could possibly be released to boost wild populations. Chris, using his unique skills developed with the Houston Zoo’s blue-billed curassows, partnered with the Colombian Zoo Association to save these birds in the wild through sharing knowledge gained from successful breeding efforts, providing the resources needed for a successful breeding program in-country, and collaborating in the creation of a five-year conservation plan. In January 2014, the National Aviary of Colombia became the first Colombian zoo to breed the blue-billed curassow in its native Colombia.
The Photo Ark project adds a creative twist to the world of wildlife conservation, using striking studio portraits of animals as a way connect people to wildlife and, in turn, inspire them to take action to save the animals we share the planet with. By using black and white backgrounds, all species – big and small, become equals, reminding us that each of these creatures have a voice, and a vital role to play in keeping our planet healthy for future generations.
Joel Sartore, the creator of the Photo Ark, is a longtime friend of the Houston Zoo, having photographed here many times in the past, and speaking at the zoo’s conservation gala back in 2016. We are proud to partner with Joel, and the feeling is mutual –
“Having friends in the world of zoos is critical in building the Photo Ark, and Chris Holmes is a perfect example of this. He’s worked for years with birds, especially in Columbia. People trust him, and his expertise, honed over years of hard work. With his recommendation, this allows me to work literally anywhere that he has established relationships. It’s remarkable and so appreciated. Indeed, without good references from folks like Chris, the Ark simply would not be able to proceed.” – Joel Sartore
Stop by the gift shop on your next visit to the zoo to pick up your copy! To explore the Ark and learn more about this incredible 25-year project, click here.