A National Geographic Photographer Visit

August 23, 2012
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo

There are times when my job exceeds even my expectations for the day.  Yesterday was one of them.  The Audubon Zoo was fortunate enough to have Joel Sartore, an award winning photographer from National Geographic, visit our zoo to photograph some of our animals for his Photo Ark series.   The goal of the Photo Ark is to document biodiversity and get people to care while there is still time.  He came here to photograph some of the animals on his long list that we are fortunate enough to have here.

I, like many people that work in zoos and aquariums, grew up looking at the beautiful pictures of animals and places in the National Geographic magazines.  I dreamed of working for National Geographic and traveling to exotic places, seeing all those amazing animals in their natural habitats.  That never really happened for me, so the opportunity to work with and assist someone that does made for a memorable work day.

We started with “Gus” the softshell turtle.  Joel knew exactly what he was doing and “Gus” was placed on his stage and photographed quickly with shots any model would envy.  We then brought in frogs, a Burmese mountain tortoise, a Children’s python, a red shouldered macaw, a brown recluse and more.

The photo studio was our zoo teen classroom.   Joel didn’t play around so we moved the lights and picked up the spiders …on his command. I ran for duct tape, I ran for a white back drop (we improvised with some tablecloths), I ran to grab a hognose snake.  This was exciting, I was assisting Joel Sartore!  Now Joel wanted bigger stuff-St. Croix sheep, Nigerian goats and “Margaret” the donkey.  We brought a donkey into the classroom!  This was awesome.  My staff was ecstatic about this opportunity to work for an idol and I knew that the animals that the keepers so love would soon be recorded in beautiful posterity.

 Every day here at the Audubon Zoo is different and special, however this was truly a work day that I will never forget.  Opportunities like this don’t happen often and one that ties into saving species and their environments is even more meaningful.

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