The Merlion ( //) is the official mascot of Singapore. It is depicted as a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Being of prominent symbolic nature to Singapore and Singaporeans in general, it is widely used to represent both the city state and its people in sports teams, advertising, branding, tourism and as a national personification. 
The Merlion was first used in Singapore as the logo for the tourism board. Its name combines " mer", meaning the sea, and " lion". The fish body represents Singapore's origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means "sea town" in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore's original name— Singapura—meaning "lion city" or "kota singa".
The symbol was designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee and curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in use from 26 March 1964 to 1997 and has been its trademarked symbol since 20 July 1966. Although the STB changed their logo in 1997, the STB Act continues to protect the Merlion symbol.  Approval must be received from STB before it can be used. The Merlion frequently appears on STB-approved souvenirs.
It was conceptualised by the vice-chancellor Kwan Sai Kheong of the University of Singapore and constructed from November 1971 to August 1972 by Singapore sculptor Lim Nang Seng ( Chinese: 林浪新; pinyin: Lín Làngxīn).  It measures 8.6 metres high and weighs 70 tons.   The project cost about S$165,000. 
The completion of the Esplanade Bridge in 1997 blocked the views of the Merlion from the Marina Bay waterfront.  By then, the original Merlion location was also no longer the entrance of Singapore River due to land reclamation works.  In response, the statue and its cub were relocated 120 metres to the current Merlion Park that fronts Marina Bay in 2002, where it stands on a newly reclaimed promontory in front of the Fullerton Hotel.
Another solution considered — to raise the Merlion on a pedestal at its original location — was deemed unsuitable, as the view would still be blocked by the bridge. Other possible relocation sites considered included Nicoll Highway Extension Bridge, Esplanade Park, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, a promontory at Marina Centre (near where the Singapore Flyer is located now), a promontory site at Bayfront (near the tip of Marina Bay Sands integrated resort) and Kim Seng Park. However, all were either unsuitable or not technically feasible. 
The unprecedented relocation took two days, from 23 to 25 April 2002. A carefully engineered journey required one barge, two DEMAG AC1600S cranes of 5000 tonnes lifting capacity, plus a team of 20 engineers and workers on site. The entire statue was hoisted onto the barge, which then sailed to the new installation site at the current Merlion Park, near the mouth of Singapore River. During the voyage, the statue had to be hoisted from the barge, over the Esplanade Bridge and then back onto the barge, as it was too tall to pass underneath.
Exactly 30 years after he officially unveiled the Merlion, then- Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew returned on 15 September 2002 to ceremonially welcome the statue again, this time in its new home. A viewing deck now stretches over the Singapore River, allowing visitors to pose for a photograph with a front or side view of the Merlion, including a new city skyline backdrop in the picture. The sculpture was aligned to face East, a direction advised to be most auspicious.  Relocated, the statue once more spouted water from its mouth, having stopped in its old location since 1998 due to a water pump malfunction. The Merlion now has a new two-unit water pump system with units working alternatively, so a backup is always on standby. The relocation and new site (four times larger than the original) cost S$7.5 million. 
From 5 June till 10 July 2006, the Merlion at Merlion Park underwent maintenance. The last one was right after its relocation. Dirt and stains were removed using high-pressure water streams, and various wear and tear of the statue was mended. 
During that period, visitors were greeted with illustrated hoardings and canvases covering the safety nets and scaffolding. The illustrations  were designed by Miel, an award-winning senior artist at The Straits Times. The illustration on the canvases made them look like shower curtains, with the Merlion sticking its head out with the shadow of its tail behind the curtain. The illustration on the hoardings showed the Merlion scrubbing himself with a brush and showering using a Merlion shower head spouting water. The Merlion said, "EXCUSE ME while I take a shower..." in a speech bubble.
The Merlion on Sentosa was designed and sculpted by an Australian Artist named James Martin. It is made of Glass Reinforced Cement (GRC) over a steel armature that is attached to the centre. 
On Saturday, 28 February 2009, at about 4:26 pm, the Merlion in the Merlion Park was struck by lightning.  A breaking news from 938NOW local radio showed an image with fragments from the Merlion's head on the ground.
Examination of the damage was done quickly with wooden scaffolding set up on Sunday, 1 March 2009 for workers to take a closer look at the hole. The incident happened as a result of the lack of lightning protection on the Merlion itself. 
One of the previously approved statues, a 37-metre-tall gigantic replica at Sentosa, with Mouth Gallery Viewing Deck on the ninth storey, another viewing gallery on its head and Sentosa Merlion Shop, and capable of shining laser beams from its eyes,  was closed on 20 October 2019.  The area around the statue would be replaced by a S$90 million Sentosa Sensoryscape project targeted to be completed by 2022. 
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