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For many of the captive animal species Joel Sartore (@joelsartore) photographs, it’s the first — and perhaps, only — time their kind has been documented. “This is their only chance to sing,” Joel, a contributing photographer at National Geographic for the past 25 years, says. His concept for National Geographic’s Photo Ark collection was sparked at home with his family as his wife underwent treatment for breast cancer; Joel acknowledged his need to create a body of work that could truly make a difference. “The goal of the project is to get the public to turn their eyes away from everyday distractions and to think about the other species we share the planet with — while there’s still time to save them.” So far he’s photographed more than 5,000 creatures of all shapes and sizes with studio lighting on either a white or black background, a great equalizer. “A mouse is every bit as important as a polar bear in these pictures. And a tiger beetle counts as much as a tiger.” #WorldWildlifeDay