According to PETA: "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."
Mario's use of Tanooki is nothing new. First introduced in 1988 in Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario used the Tanooki tail to fly and do spin attacks. Since tanukis hold a place in Japanese folklore associated with good fortune, it could be argued that Mario is simply harnessing the spirit of the animal.
PETA's campaign against Mario even includes a (warning) rather gruesome 8-bit online game called Super Tanooki Skin 2D that looks like a variation of the Super Mario Bros. game in which you chase Mario to reclaim Tanooki's fur. What do you think of PETA's claims? Is it another PR stunt or do you agree it encourages fur wearing?