Mario Kills Tanooki
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.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. Play Super Tanooki Skin 2D and help Tanooki reclaim his fur! PETA

Apparently gamers just don't appreciate PETA's wacky sense of humor.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently attacked gaming icon, Mario, for wearing a Tanooki-suit. The Tanooki is a mystical raccoon in Japanese culture. By wearing the fur suit PETA accuses the character of sending the wrong message.

It seems like PETA bit off more than it could chew, as a wave of criticism flooded the Internet. The organization back pedaled in a series of emails to gaming sites. It must have been the first time PETA has told other people to lighten up:

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.

Gamers criticized PETA for being a little late to the game. The Tanooki-suit first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3, which released in 1988 in Japan and hit the U.S. in 1990. Though PETA was probably piggybacking off the recent release of the new game Super Mario 3D Land. The game does feature the return of the Tanooki-suit. However, the Tanooki-suit looks more like a pair of raccoon pajamas than any massacred animal skin.

The organization even published a 2D game featuring a mean-looking Mario dripping in blood and holding the decapitated head of a raccoon.

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.

PETA did receive a whole lot of attention-- about 250,000 people played the game in the first 36 hours.

Though PETA missed an obvious mark and should have dinged Mario for his constant abuse of turtles. We guess the organization is just too busy cracking jokes to take the whole animal abuse thing seriously.

I wonder what those fun-loving PETA people will do next?