Singapore’s national animal is a Merlion. Now, if you are wondering what the heck a Merlion is, well…. It’s not even a real animal. It’s yet another country that is confused between myth and reality, just like Scotland’s national animal, and North Korea’s one. At least Madison, Wisconsin could base their official bird on a real animal, it’s just a pity that it’s a plastic one. So now we have a few burning questions that need answering. What is a Merlion, and why is it Singapore’s national animal?
Although it isn’t a real animal, it has a symbolic meaning for the country. A Merlion is a little like a mermaid (you should read about the tragic original Little Mermaid when you get a chance). Where a mermaid is half fish half human, a Merlion is half fish half lion. It has the head of a lion and the body of a fish. It’s the kind of creature of the deep that would fill an entire episode or two of River Monsters. I mean, could you imagine a fish with the head, and dare I say it, the teeth and jaws of a lion. Screw the sharks, this sucker would make me run on water. But only if it were real.
So now you know what a Merlion is, what about the second question. Why on Earth is Singapore’s national animal a Merlion? I mean, surely there were other animals, like real ones that they could have used.
The reason Singapore’s national animal is a Merlion
Yeah, they could have used a real, living, breathing animal as the symbol of the nation. But why do that if it doesn’t symbolize what the nation is about? Sure, some will be purists and insist that it be a real animal, and have a strong connection with the country, but why? The national symbol of England has been the Red Lion, a animal that isn’t native to the country at all. With a similar reason to Scotland and North Korea, the animal, regardless of the fact that it’s mythical, has a symbolic meaning to the country. The fish part of the creature symbolizes Singapore’s history as a fishing village. In its past it was called Temasek, which means sea town. The lion, which is the much more terrifying end of the beast, represents the original name of Singapore. The original name for Singapore was Singapura, or Lion City. By combining the two, the fish and the lion into a Merlion, they fashioned their very own unique national animal.