|Turtlesinger, Karen Buckley with turtle stars Rocky,
Gracie, Spike, and Big Black Bart
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...there was a woman who loved music. She earned a Bachelor of Music in vocal
performance from the Crane School of Music and a Master of Music with an
emphasis in opera from Temple University. She loved to sing. She was very
happily married. Her name was Karen Cunningham.
One day, while visiting her younger brother in Virginia, he stopped to help a turtle
cross the road. Karen never saw the turtle, but all the way home to Brooklyn she
kept asking her husband Dick, "Wouldn't it be NEAT to have a turtle!?"
Karen had caught "the turtle bug." She went to the pet store and got her very first
turtle, a red-eared slider. She became consumed with learning about turtles. She
left the music world and entered the turtle world! She joined the New York Turtle
and Tortoise Society. She volunteered at the Bronx Zoo Reptile House and
received training there for 9 months.
Then in 1989 Dick and Karen heard about a house for sale in Cape May County.
Dick had always wanted to live by the sea. And the Cape May County Zoo
needed a new reptile keeper at their new reptile house. They moved to Cape
May County! Karen worked at the zoo for nearly 3 years and was put in charge
of the reptile house. She acquired three zoo donation turtles for her own: Rocky,
a three-toed box turtle, Gracie, a travancore tortoise, and Big Black Bart, a
red-footed tortoise. She sang once a year as a soloist in the Cape May
Then tragedy struck. Dick was diagnosed with lung cancer, and underwent
chemotherapy, radiation and holistic treatments. Karen left the zoo to spend more
time with him, and she left the turtle world and entered the music world again. She
became a private vocal instructor. She taught all ages and abilities and walks of
life. After becoming cancer-free for 3 years, Dick died suddenly of pneumonia in
After a period of great mourning, Karen met Charlie. Karen and Charlie were
married in September, 1999. A new woman evolved. She loves to sing. She is
very happily married. Her name is Karen Buckley.
Then, on May 1st, 2000, Karen's music and turtle worlds came together, and the
Turtlesinger Phenomenon began! Karen started writing songs about Rocky,
Gracie, Bart, and Spike (a 3-week-old snapping turtle acquired in New York
State in July, 2005), and turtles she has seen around the world. She became the
Turtlesinger, (and Charlie became the Turtletoter!) and to date she has written 78
songs in all kinds of styles about turtles. No less than 20 Turtlesinger performances
occurred in the first three months alone, and now after over 771 events, the
Turtlesinger and Turtletoter have so far reached over 160,384 people! She is
licensed by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and she'll bring all 4 live
turtles along to show you! She now earns her living showing her turtles and/or
singing her turtle songs for people of all ages at schools, parks, nature centers,
churches, conferences, birthday parties, restaurants, assisted living centers, fairs,
street malls, and festivals. . . yes, Turtlesinger performances are rated "A" for
Anyone And All Ages
...and they all live happily ever after! But the story isn't over:
In 2007, Turtlesinger, Inc. became a Federal 501(c)3 Public Charity. Would you
like to be a part of this fairy tale? To make a donation to Turtlesinger, Inc., so that
we may continue to present programs like the ones listed on this site at our Past
Events page, please make your check payable to "Turtlesinger, Inc." and mail to:
785 Stone Harbor Blvd.
Cape May Court House, New Jersey 08210
Or, to book your Turtlesinger event, call The Turtlesinger Hotline at (609)
You can also e-mail requests for more information to: email@example.com
Thank you for helping us help turtles by educating the public about them!
And thank you for reading our story and how it all began!
Last Updated: 10/29/2015