A chimpanzee nonchalantly rips down the set’s paper backdrop. A hedgehog bites its handler. An armadillo makes an adorably slow escape. These are just a few of the challenges wildlife photographer Joel Sartore has encountered over the last few years while working on a series of photo shoots for National Geographic.
The company hired Sartore to help create 12,000 beautiful portraits of captive animal species being threatened by extinction. The project, called Photo Ark, aims to raise awareness of the global extinction crisis. “Half of the world’s plant and animal species are projected to go extinct by 2100,” National Geographic explains. “Photo Ark is a multiyear National Geographic project with a simple goal—to create portraits of the world’s captive species before they disappear, and to inspire people everywhere to care.”
The above video goes behind the scenes with Sartore as he attempts to wrangle animal subjects who aren't quite ready for their close-up. Eventually, they’ll all pose for the perfect, iconic shot, but the laborious process is full of hilarious ups and downs.