Forget about rescuing the princess — Mario needs to worry about saving his own skin, or at least the skin on his Tanooki suit.
Animal-rights group PETA is going after the Nintendo hero for wearing a special furry suit that enhances his abilities. Fans of the various Super Mario games know that, throughout the years, Mario has become everything from a frog to a balloon. But PETA has zeroed in on the “tanooki suit” (gained when Mario grabs a special leaf, the suit allows him to fly slightly), claiming that it promotes the message that wearing fur is acceptable.
Per PETA, “Tanooki may be just a ‘suit’ in Mario games, but by wearing the skin of an animal, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman adds, “Tanukis are real-life raccoon dogs who are beaten and, as PETA’s undercover exposés show, often skinned alive for their fur. This winter, everyone can give raccoon dogs and other fabulous animals a 1-UP by keeping our wardrobes fur-free.”
To prove their point, PETA created an online game called ‘Super Tanooki Skin 2D’, which allows players the chance to help Tanooki “reclaim his fur.” The graphic accompanying the game features a Mario-esque character wearing a a fur suit and carrying a bloody, crying Tanuki head. The website also recommends animal-friendly gaming alternatives to the multiple Super Mario options, including ‘Super Tofu Boy’ and ‘Super Chick Sisters’, and includes a link to PETA’s fur-free pledge.
Not unexpectedly, Nintendo thinks PETA is blowing things out of proportion. The company released a statement saying, “Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. 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.”