By Carolyn Cox
John Basile of Lockport, Illinois is expected to appear in court later this month for bringing his tiger Shere Khan into a bar. Basile’s lawyers claim there has been much “sensationalism and speculation” in the media about their client’s actions, but really, this is a story that sensationalizes itself.
Basile told FOX that he took Shere Khan (pictured above) for a walk through the Chicago suburbs on Feb 16th. Don’t worry, Kahn is a Siberian tiger, so perhaps she’s prepared for Midwestern winters. Basile decided to stop in at Uncle Richie’s pub in the southwest suburb and left after 15 minutes when the exotic animal became “cranky”—presumably because the juke box played “Wagon Wheel” one time too many.
Witness Ethan Autman shot video of the incident and has since alleged that Basile appeared intoxicated. Another bar patron filed a complaint last week stating that Shere Khan had “endangered her safety,” although it was probably the human who brought a tiger into a bar that posed a greater risk.
To be clear, Basile is an advocate for endangered animals, not just a casual collector of exotic cats. He owns Big Run Wolf Ranch, which is a federally licensed nonprofit that shelters exotic animals when “the only other option was euthanasia” and specializes in “the education and conservation of North American wildlife.”
Which begs the question, what is the Ranch educating wildlife in? How to eat bar nuts without the use of opposable thumbs?
Shere Khan is also still an adorable underage tiger cub and not the ferocious man eater that one might expect from headlines about the incident—at least, not yet. She might just be an adorable, 45 pound puddle of barhopping fun right now, but Khan will grow to an estimated 450 pounds and more than 6 feet long.
In some ways, Basile’s work in wildlife rescue and public education make his actions even more lamentable. How can the public ever foster respect for these big cats, which should include a healthy amount of fear, if they’re just being used as a bar accessory?
Tigers suck at trivia and they can’t shoot pool for shit. If Bastile wanted to enhance public admiration for endangered wildlife, he chose the wrong social setting.