5 things about the Merlion that you probably did not know

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1) It should be called the Mertiger
From what we are taught, when Sang Nila Utama first stepped foot into Singapore, he saw an auspicious beast that resembled a lion and decided to name this little island Singapura, which literally translates as “Lion City”. Thus, the Singapore Tourism Board came up with the Merlion to symbolise the legend of discovery of Singapura, the Lion City. However, based on recent studies, at that time when Sang Nila Utama found Singapore, there were no lions living there, but there were plenty of tigers around. Therefore, what Sang Nila saw was most likely a tiger and this technically means that Singapore should be called “Tiger City” and the Merlion should be renamed as the ‘Mertiger”.

2) It is needed for entry into Singapore
I bet you are not told this but apparently, having your photo taken at least once with the Merlion is a required condition of entry into Singapore. In addition, that photo will also be checked by the immigration officer at the airport when you depart from Singapore.

3) It is extremely tedious to clean
Everything needs to be cleaned and maintained, including our icon, the Merlion. From time to time, the Merlion will undergo some cleaning and maintenance. This might sound normal, but I bet you did not know that when this 37 metre tall hybrid of lion and mermaids was cleaned in 2012, a full team of cleaners had to arm themselves with jet sprays while abseiling down the Merlion’s body. The entire operation took 10 days to complete. This is certainly one hell of a long bath.

4) There is more about the Merlion than meets the eye
Does anyone know how many scales are there on the Merlion? Probably no one bothered counting, but here is the answer, not that anyone wants to know; This 60 metre-above-sea-level structure has exactly 320 scales covering its body! Another fun fact; the eyes and scales of the Merlion will glow and start changing colours at night.
5) There are more Merlions than you think
There are currently seven approved Merlion statues in Singapore. The two most well-known statues are located at Merlion Park next to One Fullerton. The third is the Merlion tower on Sentosa which was built in 1995. The fourth Merlion statue is located outside STB’s office and the last two can be found at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. Standing at 2.5m, they were installed in 1998 on either side of a public carpark entrance. Outside of Singapore, there is one located at Nambo Paradise, which is a botanical and zoological garden located in Tateyama City, Japan.


This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: