Life of Pi by Yann Martel tells the story of a young man named Pi Patel, whose family owns a zoo in India. They decide to move to Canada and transport their zoo, but the ship they were sailing across the Atlantic encounters a storm and sinks. Pi is the only survivor, as he finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and Bengal tiger he names Richard Parker.
Piscine describes for the author the beautiful Pondicherry Zoo, run by his father, a former hotel operator. He compares the keeping of a zoo to the keeping of a hotel and how animals are similar to hotel occupants.
While growing up in a zoo, Piscine learns much of the world of nature. He loves the beauty and perfection of it all and sees the animals as happy for having their own territories. He claims that animals in the wild do not truly have freedom because they are dictated by their predators and the space restrictions. He then compares peoples’ problems with zoos with their same problems with religion in how they misunderstand each of them.