Photographer On Quest To Build ‘Photo Ark’ For Every Captive Animal Species

A photographer named Joel Sartore is on a mission to photo document every captive animal species in the world using simple studio lighting and black-and-white backgrounds.

Sartore, a contributor to National Geographic, is 11 years into the project that is estimated will span 25 years. The photographer has managed to capture exquisite images of 6,500 different animal species so far. He has about 6,000 more to go.

Purple-banded sunbird (Nectarinia bifasciata) at Chitengo Camp, in Gorongosa National Park. Photo Joel Sartore
An endangered baby Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross (Pongo pygmaeus x abelii) at the Houston Zoo. Photo Joel Sartore

In a recent radio interview with Fresh Air, Sartore told interviewer Terry Gross that he photographs the animals in the studio as opposed to in nature to give them equal importance to viewers. This way, all the creatures will be viewed with the same respect.

“A MOUSE is every bit as glorious as an elephant, and a tiger beetle is every bit as big and important as a tiger,” Sartore said.