With Super Mario 3D Land hitting store-shelves in North America and Europe this week, animal-rights organization PETA has launched a campaign against the Nintendo mascot over the ‘Tanooki suit. According to PETA, Mario dons “the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers.” The in-game upgrade has actually been included in the franchise since Super Mario Bros. 3, which was released in 1988. PETA claims that by “wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.” PETA has released a small Flash game, known as Super Tanooki Skin 2D, in which players play as a skinned Tanooki that tries to reclaim his fur from a flying Mario. The game can be played here.
Speaking to Eurogamer, a spokesperson for Nintendo stated that “Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. […] 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.”