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National Geographic Live

Joel Sartore: Building the Photo Ark

Photographer Joel Sartore believes in the power of a portrait to change the world. He is the founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark project—a multi-year initiative to document every living species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. By giving us the opportunity to look these animals in the eye, he hopes to inspire action through education and help protect at-risk species from extinction while there’s still time.

To date, Sartore has photographed more than 12,000 of an estimated 20,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates—from the massive African elephant to the tiniest bumblebee. Once completed, the Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them. Hear about the inspiration, comical mishaps and endearing encounters behind his mission to change the world, one photo—and one species—at a time, in Joel Sartore: Building the Photo Ark.

Due to changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, this performance will be proceeding with increased health and safety measures. Currently, audience capacity is reduced, food and beverage sales are paused for these dates, and masks continue to be mandatory while inside Arts Commons. Please note these restrictions may change by the time of the performance.

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“I really want to share with the world what biodiversity looks like at this point in time, while we still have most of what we arrived here with through evolutionary time. It all matters, and the small stuff, I would argue, matters the most.”


Joel Sartore