The Merlion is the Singapore’s mythical beast with the head of a lion and body of a fish. This imaginary creature is used as the symbol of Singapore. The 8.6 metres high, half-lion, half-fish sculpture was located at the mouth of Singapore river, the statue then settled into its new home at Merlion Park. The Singapore Merlion is made of cement fondue, its eyes from small red teacups, its skin from porcelain plates and it weights about 40 tons. The Merlion logo had been designed by a member of the Souvenir Committee and also the curator of Van Kleef Aquarium, Fraser Brunner.
In ancient times, Singapore was known as Temasek (meaning ‘sea town’ in Javanese). A Palembang prince discovered the island and saw a strange looking beast which he believed it was a lion. He decided to stay on the island with his men and named the island ‘Singapura’ which means Lion City (Singa means lion in Malay, pura means city in Sankrit). However, recent studies indicate that lions have never lived there, the creature seen by Sang Nila Utama (the Javanese prince) was either a white fox or the Malayan tiger. The fish tail of the Merlion is said to represent Singapore’s earliest beginnings as a fishing village.
Merlion attracts more than a million visitors each year who make the trip to Merlion Park. Today, there are five official Merlion statues in Singapore. You can find them at Sentosa island, Merlion park, Mount Faber and the headquarters of Singapore Tourism Board at Orchard Spring Lane.
On 28 February 2009, the Merlion in the Merlion Park was struck by lightning at about 4.25 pm on Saturday. This incident happened because the Merlion itself was lack of lightning protection. About 30 people dashed into a nearby restaurant for safety while other onlookers kept taking photos of that 38-year-old tourism icon. Repairs to the statue took till the end of March, although the Merlion itself resumed spouting water on 18 March 2009.