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International wildlife photographer Joel Sartore paid us a visit at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Joel visited as part of a global quest to picture every species of animal in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries to encourage conservation.
He began this project 14 years ago, and since then has travelled the world and pictured more than 10,000 different animals. He still has around 5,000 left to photograph.
Joel said: “It will probably take me another 10 years to complete. Often we are taking pictures of the last animal of a species.”
Every picture Joel takes is a vital record of a particular species, which is why he calls the project The Photo Ark.
The American photographer was in Bristol with his wife, Kathy, as part of a 10-stop tour around Britain visiting zoos and private collections.
Joel, 57, took pictures of a chappa bug-eyed frog, spiney-tail lizard and a prehensile tailed skink as well as a marojejy leaf chameleon from Madagascar.
Before beginning this project he travelled the globe for 17 years taking pictures of animals in the wild for National Geographic magazine.
But when he had to remain home while his wife was ill he came up with the idea of creating unique animal portraits.
Each one is taken using a Nikon D850 camera with a macro lens against a black and then a white background and lit with four flash lights to bring out the detail and vivid colours of every animal.
Joel, who has 1.5 million followers on Instagram, said: “This is the best time in the history of the world to be involved in conservation because it is so easy to reach the world.
“These pictures are being looked at by people on social media and that way the conservation message is getting across.”
Nigel Simpson, Bristol Zoological Society’s Head of Animal Collections, said: “Conservation is so important to us and The Photo Ark is such an inspiring and influential project. We were delighted to be able to help Joel.”
Bristol Zoological Society, which owns and runs Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is involved in 14 field conservation projects in 10 countries across the world helping to safeguard the future of endangered species.
Joel’s photos can be seen at www.joelsartore.com/gallery/the-photo-ark/
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