8 Things About The Merlion You Probably Didn’t Know

1. It represents a mythical creature with a deeper meaning

The Merlion is a mythical creature that serves as the national symbol of Singapore. It has the head of a lion and the body of a fish and statues of it can be found in several locations in the city. The name “Merlion” is a combination of “mer,” which means “sea,” and “lion,” referring to the the mighty big cat. This again is a reference to the origin of Singapore as a fishing village. Back in the day, it was called “Temasek,” which means “Sea Town” in Javanese. The original name of the city was “Singapura,” which means “Lion City.”

2. It’s the ultimate patriotic emblem of Singapore

One of the most remarkable facts about the Merlion is that it didn’t start out as the ultimate patriotic symbol of Singapore. It was originally designed to serve as the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and was used as such between 1964 and 1997. It was designed in the 1960s by Alec Fraser-Brunner, a British ichthyologist who served as a member of the Souvenir Committee and who worked at the former “Van Kleef Aquarium.” 

3. You can’t just use the Merlion symbol anywhere

Even though the Merlion seized to be used as the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), it was trademarked in 1966 and is still protected. This means that you can’t just go ahead and create souvenirs with a picture of a Merlion and sell them!

4. The original statue was located somewhere else

The most famous Merlion statue in Singapore, the one located in “Merlion Park,” was originally located at the mouth of the Singapore River in an area now referred to as “Waterboat House Garden.” It was created between November 1971 and August 1972 and has a height of 8.6 meters and weighs 70 tonnes (70,000 kilos).

5. It was relocated in 2002 on a piece of reclaimed land

The statue remained in this location until the early 2000s. It was relocated because the Esplanade Bridge that spans the Singapore River blocked its view and because this area wasn’t the entrance of the Singapore River anymore. That’s why the Singaporean government started looking for a location better suited to house the ultimate symbol of the city, which they found just 120 meters further in a little piece of reclaimed land that is now referred to as Merlion Park. This little area of reclaimed land fronts Marina Bay and the statue stands proudly in front of the iconic Fullerton Hotel.

6. The Prime Minister from 1972 welcomed the statue yet again

One of the most interesting facts about the Merlion is that the Prime Minister who inaugurated the statue in 1972, a man named Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), was called for duty again to inaugurate the same statue on its new location in 2002!

7. They didn’t take any risk with the water pump of the statue

Did you know that the Merlion statue stopped shooting water out of its mouth in 1998 when it was still located in its old location? That’s because the water pump that made this happen broke down! They did whatever they could to avoid this, so the Singaporean Government didn’t just spend S$7.5 million to install a world-class water pump system, but also a backup unit nearby! This means that there is no reason for the statue to stop shooting water into Marina Bay!

8. Merlion Park is one of the most picturesque locations in Singapore

If you ever visit Singapore, then Merlion Park should be on the top of your bucket list! Even though the statue looks quite amazing itself, the location it’s positioned in is pretty incredible. Especially at night, this becomes one of the most picturesque locations in a city full of marvelous spots already!