Tanooki brouhaha: Super Mario 3D Land attacked by PETA

Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D Land has PETA outraged. The animal rights groups says that Nintendo's Tanooki suit 'sends the message that it's OK to wear fur.'

This week, PETA launched a campaign called 'Mario Kills Tanooki.' Here, a still from the playable PETA Mario game.

This weekend, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D Land, the first side-scrolling Mario title designed exclusively for the 3DS device. Critics like the game, mostly. But the folks at PETA do not.

More specifically, the folks at PETA do not like the inclusion of the "Tanooki suit," the familiar raccoon-like cloak and tail donned by Mario in some levels of Super Mario 3D Land. (In fact, the Tanooki suit first appeared back in 1988 with Super Mario Bros. 3.) 

"Tanooki may be just a 'suit' in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur," PETA reps wrote on its "Mario Kills Tanooki" site. The site includes a (relatively gruesome) desktop game, where a skinned tanuki chases Mario, who is dripping blood, across a familiar landscape of pipes, blocks, and gold coins.

Just to be clear, the PETA game was designed by the organization, not Nintendo. The actual Mario game does not include any blood nor skinning. Players receive the Tanooki suit after collecting special leaves.

"Tanukis are real-life raccoon dogs who are beaten and, as PETA's undercover exposés show, often skinned alive for their fur," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman told Kotaku this week. "This winter, everyone can give raccoon dogs and other fabulous animals a 1-UP by keeping our wardrobes fur-free." PETA alleges that Super Mario 3D Land sends a clear message: That it's OK to wear fur, no matter how brutally it is obtained. 

In a statement to Eurogamer, a Nintendo spokesman shook off the criticism. 

"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games," the spokesman told Eurogamer. "These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."

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