Did you know the Merlion was recently closed for 11 weeks? Here are 5 little-known facts about Singapore’s national icon

During the restoration project, the Merlion statue was cleaned of grime and applied with a special anti-corrosion solution that prevents it from rusting.
Lianhe Zaobao

The Merlion is finally open again for Instagram shots, after recently going through a 11-week restoration project.

The restoration project for the Merlion – which is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and a fish’s body – was captured by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a five-minute video published on Facebook on August 1.

During the restoration project, the Merlion statue was cleaned of grime and applied with a special anti-corrosion solution that prevents it from rusting, STB said.

If you weren’t even aware that the Merlion was closed down for three months, then these five facts about Singapore’s national icon may come as an even bigger surprise to you.


1. It was built in 9 months by 9 people

The Straits Times

According to Public Art Trust, Lim Nang Seng, a sculptor, was commissioned by the then-Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to construct the first Merlion 48 years ago.

Together with his eight children, Lim built the Merlion in nine months, which stands at 8.6 metres and weighs 70 tonnes. 

According to STB, the white Shanghai plaster used by Lim gave the Merlion its “distinctive and pristine glow”.

2. It spouts water 20 hours a day

Singapore Press Holdings

According to STB, the merlion spouts water for 20 hours a day. 

Though the timings were not specified by STB, 20 hours should be enough to get your pictures, at least.

3. There are some in South Korea and Japan too

A Merlion statue in Nami Island, South Korea.
Reddit / u/dori_lukey

You might know that there a total of seven Merlion statues in Singapore, but have you seen the iconic mascot while travelling too?

Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, was caught off guard when he spotted one during his trip to Karuizawa city in Japan in 2016.

Another statue was spotted by a Redditor on Nami Island in South Korea – where the famous Winter Sonata was filmed – alongside two Singapore flags.

4. It was struck by lightning, literally

Singapore Press Holdings

According to the National Library Board, the statue at the new Merlion Park was struck by lightning in February 2009 during a thunderstorm, causing a crack in its mane, and a hole at the base of the statue due to falling debris.

It was quickly repaired and reopened for public viewing in March 2009.

5. It has a career online

The Merlion in an All Nippon Airways (ANA) commercial.
YouTube / Jamie Lee

The Merlion has also made guest appearances in advertisements and animations.

The merlion was featured in an All Nippon Airways (ANA) commercial, where a woman suggested visiting the Merlion in Singapore to her husband, who was reluctant to travel abroad.

The Merlion also made cameo appearances in well-known animations such as We Bare Bears, Phineas and Ferb and even in a Japanese anime called Cowboy Bebop.

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