It's all just a ploy for attention, and frankly, they got it. PETA is 21 years late to the party, considering the Tanooki Suit first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3, which released here in 1990.
No where have the games ever implied that Mario gets the Tanooki Suit by killing a tanuki. Also, in Japanese folklore, tanuki are often depicted as shapeshifters, so it's not that much of a stretch to imagine that SMB3 borrowed on that, despite the 'Suit' part of the name. I mean, it allows him to fly and briefly change into a damn statue. (Edit for clarification: It does in SMB3, I do realize the new game separates these items, as you can change into a statue via a different item. The point was just that they give him magical powers, so it's not hard to imagine they're a magical item rather than a skin from an animal, unless you want to argue it's the skin from a shapeshifting tanuki.)
Either way, the fact of the matter is that PETA doesn't care about that, and is simply targeting Mario and the Tanooki Suit to raise awareness about animal furs by saying that the game is advocating furs. Mario just to happened to be a popular and convenient target that they knew people would respond to, because now they're doubling back and going "Hey guys, we don't hate Mario, we're Mario fans too!"
Like I said, they just did it for the attention.
Last edited by Kusuriuri; 11-17-2011 at 09:03 PM.