Not even video games are safe from the critical eyes of PETA. The animal-rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, made that clear when it targeted Super Mario 3D Land for its use of a raccoon dog suit. Even though Super Mario is a video game and no actual raccoon dogs were injured in the making of the game.
The activist group is now saying that its campaign, which offered its own version of the video game, was a spoof. A PETA spokesperson told the gaming site Kotaku, "No one really believes that Mario actually kills and skins a raccoon dog for his fur in Super Mario 3D Land."
The organization made that clear after buzz on the campaign went viral on the Web. Searches on Yahoo! for "mario tanooki peta" climbed more than 400% in one day.
PETA's satirical video game, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, has a skinless raccoon dog chasing Mario, who is wearing its bloody pelt. In the first 36 hours of the campaign, 250,000 gamers tuned in to play and be greeted with the message , "By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur."
A rep for the animal-rights group was quoted in USA Today explaining that the PETA 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."
For its part, Nintendo stated that "Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games ... The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."
This isn't the first time that PETA has been in the middle of a controversy of its own making. An ad for Dodge that featured a monkey in an Evel Knievel suit came under fire from the organization. In response, the car company kept the commercial but erased the monkey so that it was invisible. You can see both versions of the ad here.
And just in time for Thanksgiving, PETA has called on the city of Turkey, Texas, to change its name for the holiday -- to Tofurky. The organization offers the town's population of 500 a "delicious, healthy vegan holiday feast" if they agree. Don't hold your breath, PETA.