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Sartore's photos, Lincoln zoo animals featured on 10 National Geographic covers
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Sartore's photos, Lincoln zoo animals featured on 10 National Geographic covers

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In a first for National Geographic, the magazine's April issue has 10 different covers featuring the work of Lincoln photographer Joel Sartore.

Each cover features an animal from Sartore’s Photo Ark project, in which he is attempting to take portraits of every species of animal or insect in captivity.

National Geographic unveiled the covers Tuesday on the NBC morning show, "Today." Sartore was joined on the set in New York City by Lincoln Children’s Zoo Director John Chapo and three creatures from the Lincoln zoo: an African serval, Colombian tegu (lizard) and Chilean tarantula.

The Lincoln zoo's three-banded southern armadillo, named Fez, and an Indian peafowl (peacock) are on two of the National Geographic covers. But Fez the armadillo, who made the trip to New York City for Tuesday's announcement, got stage fright and refused to come out of his shell.

The National Geographic covers also feature a Malayan tiger from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and a snowy owl from Raptor Recovery Nebraska.

U.S. subscribers will receive one of the covers at random. Newsstands will offer a selection of the covers.

Sartore has said he hopes the Photo Ark -- intimate portraits of an estimated 12,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates -- will inspire people to save the animals before they disappear. For many of Earth’s creatures, time is running out. Species are disappearing at an alarming rate, Sartore said.

To date, he has photographed nearly 6,000 animals -- starting his project in 2005 at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. Once completed, Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them, Sartore said.

In addition to the armadillo, peacock, tiger and snowy owl, the 10 covers include a waxy monkey tree frog, hippopotamus, Reimann’s snake-necked turtle, Brazilian porcupine, mother and baby koalas and Coquerel’s sifaka.

In addition to the Lincoln locations, Sartore shot the cover photos at zoos in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Australia.

With so many animals to choose from, the magazine staff had a difficult time selecting the 10 to use on the covers.

“We wanted species diversity, from the charismatic and cute to the often overlooked. A mix of engaging characters that started to hint at the scale of Joel’s project was key,” said Susan Goldberg, the magazine's editor in chief.

Added Emmet Smith, National Geographic Partners creative director: “Eye contact was key, as one of the hallmarks of the Photo Ark is creating a direct connection between the viewer and the animal.”

Published alongside the story is an extensive gallery of Sartore’s portraits and an interactive for readers to discover which of the 10 cover animals they are most like. The “What Animal Is Most Like You?” quiz features questions such as, “Do you like warm weather, or snow?" and "Are you a night owl or do you just like to sleep all the time?” The quiz is posted at, where users can choose to download their animal’s wallpaper.

Subscribers can call 800-777-2800 to purchase the magazine cover of their choice if they did not receive that cover in the mail.

The April issue of National Geographic hits newsstands on March 29, but the cover story, “Every Last One,” is posted at

The April issue also features the work of Lincoln photographer Brian Lehmann in a story on Indonesia's Torajan people.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7217 or

On Twitter @LJSerinandersen.


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