Tiger out walking strolls into bar near Chicago

A tiger walked into a bar in a city outside Chicago. (CNN/WBBM)
A tiger walked into a bar in a city outside Chicago. (CNN/WBBM)

LOCKPORT, Ill. (CNN/WBBM) — A tiger walked into a bar in a city outside of 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 Lockport 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 a tiger just behind his home.

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

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.

The video, though dark, shows a man and his tiger out on the town.

“He was thinking he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Autman. “I think he was kind of drunk, though.”

So did police. Earlier that evening, Basile had been spotted inside Uncle Ritchie’s bar, along with his tiger.

It’s the same bar where Basile’s tiger apparently bit a woman in December, although she never reported it.

Lemming said that surprises him, but that’s not the only thing.

“Well, it surprised me there’s a tiger in the bar,” said Lemming.

Basile faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, reckless conduct and possession of a dangerous animal.

An employee at Basile’s home declined to comment Wednesday.

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