In Yann Martel's Life of Pi, why does Pi think zoos are important?

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It's not surprising that Pi should attach so much important to zoos. After all, they were an important part of his upbringing. Pi's father ran the Pondicherry Zoo, and Pi's upbringing there was a formative experience. He thought he was living in paradise, surrounded by all those wonderful, exotic animals. Pi ruefully reflects on the fact that zoos, like religion, have somewhat fallen out of favor in the modern world. He mounts a spirited defense of zoos, arguing that they provide animals with a greater degree of comfort and safety than they can ever enjoy out in the wild. Like religion, zoos provide a semblance of order to life, investing it with a much deeper significance. Contrast that with the harshness of the natural world, red in tooth and claw, where savagery and chaos reign unchecked.

Pi's apologia for zoos may be somewhat simplistic and overstated, but in his defense, one could say that his argument is a reflection of a very special time in his life, an idyllic childhood when it...

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