A suburban Chicago man busted for bringing his tiger cub into a bar just doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
John Basile, of Lockport, Ill., says he plans to fight misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and possession of a dangerous animal. The wildlife rescuer put his 5-month-old tiger cub on a leash and took it for a walk, including a stop at Uncle Richie's, a downtown bar in the southwest suburb, on Feb. 16.
Basile told Fox Chicago he brought the 45-pound tiger cub into the bar for 15 minutes to help promote an upcoming wildlife education event and claims he also brought two handlers along. When the cub got "a little cranky" at all the noise, they left, Basile claims.
In a press release dated Feb. 27, Basile's attorneys wrote "there has been much sensationalism, speculation and misinformation in the media" about the Feb. 16 incident. They noted he has been "cooperative with the authorities and looks forward to his opportunity to address the allegations in court."
The authorities have a different take on the incident. According to a criminal complaint filed last week in court, the tiger "endangered the safety" of a woman in the bar, according to Patch. Police also said another woman claimed the tiger bit her last December, though she did not seek medical treatment.
Witness Ethan Autman shot video of Basile taking his tiger out for a stroll on a leash after leaving the bar, according to CBS Chicago, and alleged that Basile appeared intoxicated at the time.
Basile owns Big Run Wolf Ranch, a federally-licensed non-profit wildlife animal rescue center. According to the facility's website, the animals housed there were rescued "wherein the only other alternative was euthanasia." Its main objective is education.
The cub's name, according to the Joliet Herald-News, is Shere Khan. When she reaches full size, she is expected to weigh 450 pounds and be more than 6 feet long.
Basile is expected to appear in court on the charges on March 28.
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