April 16, 2019 by
Photography by Joel Sartore

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has documented many animals at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for his Photo Ark project. Here are six of his favorites photos from the Omaha zoo.


Australian Freshwater Crocodile

Australian freshwater crocodile

Australian freshwater crocodile (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Crocodylus johnstoni 
  • Name used by zookeepers: “Greenie”
  • Residency in Omaha: Since 2000
  • Concerns in the wild: Their primary threats in the wild are habitat loss and the introduction of cane toads (Rhinella marina). These toads are extremely toxic and can kill the crocodiles if eaten. Overall, Australian freshwater crocodiles are doing well in the wild. It is a species of “least concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Fun fact: There are some pygmy populations of freshwater crocodiles. The pygmy populations reach a maximum length of only 5.5 feet, whereas most freshwater crocodiles grow up to 9 feet in length. 

Malayan Tiger

Malayan tiger (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

Malayan tiger (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni
  • Residency in Omaha: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo no longer has Malayan tigers, only Amur tigers. Collectively, the zoo’s staff has cared for 20 Malayan tigers over 25 years (from 1993-2018).
  • Concerns in the wild: Malayan tigers are listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Threats facing Malayan tigers include loss of habitat, hunting, and trapping.
  • Fun fact: In the Malay language, the tiger is called “harimau” (or “rimau” for short)

Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog

Malayan tiger (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

Strawberry poison-dart frog (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Oophaga pumilio
  • Residency in Omaha: Unknown (not currently residing at the Omaha zoo, according to zookeepers in the amphibians department)
  • Concerns in the wild: Primary threats include habitat loss and overcollection.
  • Fun fact: As their name states, they are poisonous. These frogs sequester a toxin from the ants they eat. This toxin is then secreted through the frog’s skin as an anti-predator defense.

Francois’ Langurs

Francois’ langurs (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

Francois’ langurs (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Trachypithecus francoisi 
  • Name used by zookeepers: Lynn (the adult langur)
  • Residency in Omaha: These specific animals are no longer at the Omaha zoo, but Francois’ langurs have been at the zoo since 1992 (when the Lied Jungle opened).
  • Concerns in the wild: In Vietnam, the major threat to this species is hunting (although some populations face pressures from mining and other resource extraction in the karst hills). In China, they face the threat of hunting and habitat loss due to local agriculture and firewood extraction.
  • Fun fact(s): Newborn langurs are born bright red and orange, which aids the adults in keeping track of them. After a few months, their hair gradually begins to turn black.

African Wild Dogs

African wild dogs (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

African wild dogs (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Lycaon pictus 
  • Name used by zookeepers (from left): Sissy, Bomani, and R.J.
  • Residency in Omaha: Although not currently at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, the zoo had them for nine years (from late 2005 through early 2015).
  • Concerns in the wild: Habitat loss, human conflict, and domestic dog diseases
  • Fun fact: They are highly social and work as a pack in everything they do from hunting to pup-rearing. The group in the photo were the first human-reared puppies to be introduced back into a thriving adult pack.

Madagascar Ibis

Madagascar ibis (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

Madagascar ibis (©Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark)

  • Scientific name: Lophotibis cristata urschi
  • Residency in Omaha: Only one of these two (the female) is still residing at the Omaha zoo. She arrived in 2010. The zoo received a new male in 2018.
  • Concerns in the wild: “Near threatened” (according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) with declining populations. The species is threatened by heavy hunting and trapping, and habitat loss through deforestation.
  • Fun fact: The Madagascar ibis is endemic to the woodlands and forests of Madagascar at altitudes of up to 6,600 feet. Its diet consists mainly of insects, spiders, frogs, reptiles, snails, and invertebrates. It finds prey by touch, thanks to the sensitivity to the bill-tip bone.

Explore Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark online by clicking here.

Read about National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore and his Photo Ark in the May 2019 issue of Omaha Magazine. Find the profile story online here: https://omahamagazine.com/articles/joel-sartores-photo-ark/.