Stephanie Shigematsu

Africa Rocks Plants

Stephanie Shigamatsu

Stephanie Shigematsu, Curator of Horticulture, San Diego Zoo.

Stephanie Shigematsu serves San Diego Zoo Global as curator of horticulture at the San Diego Zoo, where she is responsible for the Zoo’s prominent botanical collection of more than 700,000 plants, spread throughout the 100-acre facility. In addition to the immense plant collection, Shigematsu and her team—consisting of managers,  arborists, plant propagators, plant registrar and many horticulture experts — oversee the Zoo’s critical browse program, growing plants for animal health and welfare.

Stephanie is a 35-year veteran of the horticulture profession, serving 18 years as the director of horticulture at SeaWorld before joining the horticulture management team at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 2012. Of the numerous projects and garden installations at the Park, Shigematsu was deeply involved with the Tull Family Tiger Trail project. This outstanding immersive exhibit won the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ top honors for exhibit design in 2015—the same year she moved into her current position as curator of horticulture at the San Diego Zoo.   She was instrumental in completing the largest project in Zoo history – Africa Rocks.  With 15 exhibits and over 62 species of animals, Africa Rocks covers more than 8 acres and includes over 33,000 plants.

Shigematsu credits her mentors for her professional success, and for a passion for plant knowledge and native habitats, designing natural settings and implementing effective plant conservation strategies.