Turtlesinger's mission is to Educate and Entertain the public with Live Turtles and Original songs!


Once Upon A Time. . .
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 "Messiah" sing-along.

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 1996.

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 over 60 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 424 events, the Turtlesinger and Turtletoter have so far reached over 57,675 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!

In 2007, Turtlesinger, Inc. became a Federal 501(c)3 Public Charity.

For more pictures of our turtle stars and more turtle song clips, CD sales, reviews and much more, go to our website at www.turtlesinger.com



Reptile Keeper's Blues

Written By: Karen Buckley


It's 5:00 in the morning in bed I'd like to stay
But the turtles are waitin', no time to play
It's time for workin'--no time to snooze...
I've got those humid, steamy Reptile Keeper's blues

It's time to make a salad and clean those dirty tanks
the hunger of the reptiles is our thanks
It's air-conditioned out where the public view
But here with the reptiles it's one hundred and two!

We feed 'em lots of mealworms jumbo, medium or small
We feed 'em lots of live food oh, hear those crickets call
those snakes are hungry and for them, to entice:
we offer them a rat, or snake babies get pinky mice.

Now I feel pretty triumphant and I don't want to complain
but I finally got some nasty thing out of the drain
Now water's flowin' cleanin' everyone
Having clean reptiles is a reptile keeper's job well done

One night I had a dream that water pulsed and flew
the next day my fellow keeper said "Your dream came true!"
You gotta watch that water flowin' quiet as a mouse...
Oh yes, I remember flooding the reptile house!

Now everyone needs cleaning no time to sit and pout
‘cause everything we feed the reptiles must come out
and we soak those turtles and make them clean and new
And we write down what they ate to see if they liked our menu

It's time to chop the chicken and feed those crocodiles
the caimans are some of the nastiest! reptiles
and don't forget to check the incubator, too
You might find a baby turtle lookin' up at you!

It's almost time to go now but I gotta stay awake:
You need to keep your wits about you with a venemous snake
I love all those reptiles why else would I choose
to be a reptile keeper with my reptile keeper's blues?
I've got those humid, steamy reptile keeper's blues...("boy, it's hot in here...)

Copyright 2000 Turtlesinger Songs


Written By: Karen Buckley


Now something’s been hap’nin to me
and it concerns conventionality
Just lately at the studio
My sound man felt the need to go
and say things weren’t sounding like they should be… (well)

(Refrain): I’m different and that’s o.k.!
I do things in a different way!
You may never have heard an opera singer sing about turtles
‘cause I’m different and that’s o.k.

I hope the turtles mean a lot to all of you
‘cause singing about them is what I’m meant to do
And be careful what you pray for
You never know quite what’s in store
And just remember that it’s true: (refrain)

So I tell you what I’m gonna do
I’m gonna spell it out for you:
I’m gonna sing about turtle lore
and its never been done this way before
and here’s another message that’s true:

If you’re different, well that’s o.k.!
Just do things in a different way!
don’t be stuck in what’s been done before
Your new ideas may be called for
Be different, and that’s o.k. ‘cause
I’m different and that’s o.k.!
I do things in a different way!
And you may never have heard an opera singer sing about turtles
‘cause I’m different and that’s o.k.!
You may never have heard a Turtlesinger sing about turtles
‘cause I’m different and that’s o.k.!

Copyright 2000 Turtlesinger Songs

Turtle Bug

Written By: Karen Buckley

Chorus: You better watch out!
You could be next!
It could happen to you
When you least expect!
It could fly through the air,
Or come in a hug!
You might just catch
the turtle bug!

I was mindin' my own business
Everything was goin' fine,
Visiting my brother in Virginia
(it was 1989...)
When he stopped to help a turtle
Cross a country road that day:
I didn't even see it but it made me
want a turtle in the worst way! (Chorus)

So when we got back to Brooklyn
I went to the pet store!
I got my very first turtle:
A red-eared slider and more!
I couldn't learn enough about them
So maybe you can imagine my glee
When I discovered there was a
New York Turtle and Tortoise Society! (Chorus)

How I loved that little turtle!
(But I was far from through!)
I wanted to work with the turtles!
I called the Big Bronx Zoo!
At the reptile house, I trained there
Every month, three days a week.
I was so enamored of turtles
(You could say this love was unique!) (Chorus)

Then we heard about a house for sale
In Cape May County
My husband, Dick, had always wanted
To live by the sea!
What we found was unexpected,
For along with the wish of my spouse:
The Cape May County Zoo needed a keeper to work
In their new reptile house! (Chorus)

So we moved to Cape May County
So fast-I didn't care!
For a chance to work with the turtles,
I was floating on air!
For three years I worked with turtles
And took some turtle trips on the side:
My passion for the turtles was something that
Could not be denied! (Chorus)

There was sadness in my life, then:
For my dear husband, Dick, died.
I went back to my music...
So many times I cried...
Well my tortoise made me laugh again!
(It felt a little like waking up!)
My tortoise walked around like he was blinded!
(Stuck on his head was a Dixie cup!) (Chorus)

Since then I've seen more turtles...
I kept on loving them all this time.
I've got a new husband, Charlie!
Life feels pretty sublime...
And a way to mix turtles and music
Seems to have made itself clear!
I started writing songs about turtles
On May 1st of this year! (Chorus)

So if you've already got the turtle bug
You know it's pretty neat!
We've gotta stand up for the turtles:
Or what kind of fate will they meet?
Besides, people know what to give you, then,
(You can ask Charlie, my spouse):
From Christmas to birthdays to weddings
There are turtles all over the house! (Chorus)

Copyright 2000 Turtlesinger Songs

Leatherback Song

Written By: Karen Buckley


I've been to Costa Rica at midnight
When the stars fill the skies:
On Playa Grande Beach, in the moonlight
The leatherback turtles arrive.

Huge gray shapes loom from the waves,
Lurching in with the tide:
No sound-no light-just sand and surf
And the beach far and wide...

Will she come, determined to lay her eggs?
Will she leave, terrified?
She comes on: she'll be gone by dawn-
Tired and satisfied...
Heaving herself forward
She leaves tracks five feet wide!
Her head's the size of a basketball
And salt drains from her eyes.

Now, on land, I am covered with sand
That she flings for several feet 'round:
Seventeen turtles I counted tonight
Laying their eggs in the ground.
I feel a bit invisible
As she lays dozens of eggs by my side...
Her feet seem so maternal
As she pats the sand, her eggs to hide...

Finally, she returns to the sea
And not even I know
Exactly where she laid those eggs,
They're camouflaged just so.
How can I be in Costa Rica,
No other human in sight,
Standing in awe of their destiny,
Watching them fade in the night!?

Never before or since that night
Did I ever feel so alive
Watching them come like millennium,
Leatherback turtles by my side.

Copyright 2000 Turtlesinger Songs


Turtle Bug CD includes the following tracks:
1 Turtle Bug
2 Gracie's Song
3 Leatherback Song
4 Rocky
5 Galapagos
6 Song for Bart
7 Tony the Turtle or The Turtle Who Saved a Boy
8 Diamondback Terrapin Song
9 September Turtle Song
10 Turtle Goodbye

Different CD includes the following tracks:
1 Different
2 Snapping Turtles
3 Turtle Names
4 Pop A Balloon
5 Turtle Ships
6 Turtle Poop
7 Reptile Keeper's Blues
8 Devil's Hole
9 Spot (the Spotted Turtle)
10 Turtlesitters
11 Turtle Food
12 Turtle Nesting Time
13 Little Sea Turtle Song

Set List

Our typical show is an hour long, utilizing a different song to introduce each one of the Live Turtles, followed by an opportunity for volunteers from the audience to feed the turtles. We usually have a 5th interactive song about turtles and wrap up the show with a Live Turtle Race!