Police: Drunk man took tiger for walk on Chicago-area street

LOCKPORT, Ill. - Sooo, a tiger walks into a bar. This isn't the beginning of a bad joke, it really happened in a city outside Chicago.

Lockport's never been called a wild kind of place. But where else could you see a tiger walking through downtown.

"He was taking his tiger out for a walk," said Police Chief Terry Lemming.

That's essentially the charge against John Basile, who runs the Big Run Wolf Ranch just outside town. The ranch is really a jumble of cages where Basile keeps wolves, a bear and yes, a tiger are kept, just behind his home.

"My concern really was for the people who frequented downtown area. This was at 7:30 night on a Sunday in an area that has a lot of people walking around," said Chief Lemming.

That's where Ethan Autman shot video out with this girlfriend last Sunday.

"There were people in their cars shouting like, 'Is that a tiger? Is that a tiger going over the Ninth Street Bridge?'" said Frances Escoe.

A man and his tiger out on the town.

"He was thinking he didn't do anything wrong. I think he was kind of drunk, though," said Autman.

So did police. Earlier that evening Basile had been spotted inside Uncle Ritchie's bar along with his tiger. The same bar where Basile's tiger apparently bit a woman in December, although she never reported it.

Reporter: "Does that surprise you?"

"It does," said Chief Lemming. "Well it surprised me there's a tiger in the bar."

John Basile faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, reckless conduct and possession of a dangerous animal. An employee at Basile's home declined comment Wednesday.


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