White monkey syndrome in infant baboons (Papio species).

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After a year of working in Shenzhen I don’t see a way to cure the white monkey syndrome. Working in a Chinese company means as foreigners we are outnumbered and easily overlooked. I suppose every country inherently breeds a sense of superiority among its citizens and calls it national pride, but as the outlier in this society the absurdity of valuing self-superiority over self-growth has become frustratingly clear. I also must admit that I have only worked for one Chinese company during my stay here, so perhaps this phenomenon is localized and not the norm. However, past experience has taught me that my company and my coworkers are quite typical of China so I doubt I am the only foreigner experiencing this. However, my job as a performing baboon does pay well (How can I complain about that?) and during those times when I’m expected to do nothing more than look foreign I have the opportunity to pursue personal projects, like writing this blog (So again, how can I complain about that?).

One of the most frustrating aspects of working in China is falling victim to the white monkey syndrome. When Meten hired me as an English teacher, I assumed maybe a little egotistically, that they hired me for my English skills, my intelligence or maybe even my teaching ability. However, as a foreigner in a Chinese company I often feel like they hired me because of my skin color. I’m commonly treated like a novelty item, something that should be paraded around and shown off rather than listened to or used for any kind of meaningful contribution.

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This particular deformity is caused by the sheep eating CornLilly (False hellebore) which grows wild throughout the Western US. The unusual thing about this particular plant is that depending on which day of pregnancy it is ingested, is what causes the different degenerations of the fetus. Ingestion of the plant on day 14 of gestation causes ‘The Monkey Faced Syndrome’ – lack of nasal cavity, sometimes also a cycloptic situation (one central or offset eye instead of a pair of eyes). Ingestion on the 19th to the 21st day of gestation will give higher chances of cycloptic involvement as well as forelimb deformity. Days 27 to 32 of gestation shows a marked shortening of forelimbs. Tracheal defects (lateral flattening of the trachea throughout its entire length) when eaten on days 31-33 of gestation. The difficult thing about this poisoning is that many times the sheep does not show much in the way of outward symptoms of poisoning. Therefore, this can be quite a shock when the lamb is born with the defects.