Nintendo’s video-game mascot Mario is under fire from animal rights group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) because the character appears to wear fur in the game Super Mario 3D Land.
The fur, more specifically, refers to a Tanooki suit, which allows Mario to spin at enemies with his tail and temporarily fly.
Tanooki is based on the Japanese term for raccoon, ‘tanuki’.
PETA has launched a campaign entitled ‘Mario Kills Tanooki’ in response to the new video game.
"When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy – even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers," PETA’s campaign says.
"Tanooki may be just a ‘suit’ in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur."
PETA has even created a 2D flash game, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, where players star as a flayed Tanooki that has to chase down Mario to retrieve its fur.
Nintendo has responded to PETA’s concerns, telling gaming site Eurogamer that Mario has often taken on "lighthearted and whimsical transformations" into certain animals and objects in the games, making them fun to play."
"The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves," Nintendo said.