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UPDATE: PETA's Nintendo Jab 'Tongue-in-Cheek'

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Yesterday we told you about PETA’s claims that Nintendo’s Super Mario games send the message that wearing fur is acceptable, since Mario often dons a “Tanooki suit” to gain special powers.

After a lot of outrage from the gaming community, PETA is clarifying their stance. According to an email sent to gaming website Kotaku, Shakira Croce, PETA’s media coordinator said, “Mario fans: Relax! PETA’s game was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, a fun way to call attention to a serious issue, that raccoon dogs are skinned alive for their fur. We wish real-life tanukis could fly or swat enemies away with their tails and escape from those who profit from their skins. You can help them by never buying real fur.”

However, the animal rights group is sticking to its guns when it comes to chastising games that portray cruelty or violence toward animals, and they haven’t taken down their mock game, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, in which Tanooki pursues Mario in an effort to reclaim his skin.

“No one really believes that Mario actually kills and skins a raccoon dog for his fur in Super Mario 3D Land. Our spoof is simply making a serious point: that there is a much darker story behind tanuki skins than Mario lets on. In games like Call of Duty, where characters shoot and kill animals, or in Dog Wars, where players have fun fighting and torturing dogs, it sends a dangerous message that this kind of behavior is acceptable,” said PETA’s Ashley Palmer.

And as for that tongue-in-cheek game on the PETA site?

“We know how beloved Mario is — we are huge Mario fans ourselves!” Palmer told Kotaku. “We were a little surprised that the game was taken so literally by some, but we’re thrilled that we’re able to bring so much attention to raccoon dogs whose suffering is very real.”

According to Palmer, more than 250,000 people played the game in the first 36 hours.”We are pleased as well that so many people seem to be enjoying playing the game (and learning some things along the way!),” she said.

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