PETA: That Whole Bloody Mario Thing, That was Just a Joke (UPDATE)S

Looks like PETA bit off more Fusarium venetum then they could chew when they attacked Mario for his Tanooki-suit wearing ways. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tell Kotaku that their bloody video game take-down of Mario was meant to be "tongue-in-cheek."

"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," Shakira Croce, PETA's media coordinator said. "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."

The email comes days after the organization launched a "Mario Kills Tanoki" media campaign meant to draw attention to the very real slaughtering of raccoon dogs for their furs. The campaign blasted Nintendo and their beloved gaming plumber Mario over what they claim was a message that it's OK to wear animal furs.

In Super Mario 3D Land, which was released this past weekend, one of Mario's many power-ups is a Tanooki suit which grants him the ability to glide across the screen after jumps. The suit looks more like a one-piece jumper or costume than it does a fur, but PETA said the game was sending the wrong message to gamers.

"No one really believes that Mario actually kills and skins a raccoon dog for his fur in Super Mario 3D Land," PETA spokesperson Ashley Palmer told Kotaku. "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."

On the "Mario Kills Tanooki" website, players can turn the tables on Mario, taking on the role of a bloody and skinned tanuki chasing a surly Mario as he drifts through his familiar world, a trail of blood dripping from his suit.

Palmer said PETA was surprised at hoe seriously people took their game.

"We know how beloved Mario is-we are huge Mario fans ourselves!" Palmer said. "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."

More than 250,000 people played the game in the first 36 hours, she added.

"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.


You can contact Brian Crecente, the author of this post, at brian@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.