Makeover for Singapore's Merlion

Makeover for Singapore's Merlion

Hidden from public, the famous landmark is getting a facelift and some botox ahead of its 40th birthday
The Merlion is one of the city's top free attractions. (File photo)

First time visitors to Singapore hoping to get that cliched but essential shot of the iconic Merlion fountain are out of luck for the next few months. 

In preparation for the half-lion, half-fish's 40th birthday in September, the city has hidden it from public view as it undergoes a makeover. 

According to Singapore officials, cracks will be filled, stains scrubbed off, and the Merlion's waveform, on which it sits, will be replaced with a new one. 

More on CNNGo: How has the lame Merlion become a symbol of cool? 

Illustrations like this are being placed on temporary hoardings surrounding the Merlion statue as it undergoes restoration works. The attraction, in front of the city's famous Fullerton Hotel, will reopen in early September before its birthday on the 15th.

The Straits Times reports the 2.5-month closure will be the statue's longest since it was built in 1972, topping even its 2009 closure for repairs after being hit by lightning. 

The Merlion was originally designed as the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) logo when the body was first established in 1964. 

The 8.6 meter-tall, 70-ton statue was unveiled eight years later at the mouth of the Singapore River. It was formally opened on September 15, 1972. On the same day in 2002, the Merlion was moved to its current location in the Merlion Park downtown.

So exactly what is it?

The STB says the lion head represents the lion spotted by Prince Sang Nila Utama when he re-discovered Singapura in 11 AD.

The fish tail of the Merlion symbolizes the ancient city of Temasek (meaning “sea” in Javanese) by which Singapore was known before the prince named it “Singapura” (meaning “lion city” in Sanskrit).

In other Merlion-related news this week, Singapore media report  the STB received an email from an English man so enamored with the statue, he wants permission from them to tattoo it on his body.

Butterflies and dolphins are so last year.