Mr. Patel seems to merge his knowledge of animals and running zoos with his ideas of parenting in Martel's Life of Pi. Mr. Patel draws parallels from the animal kingdom to the human world while also teaching the boys to respect all forms of life. Not only do Ravi and Pi grow up learning about animal behavior in captivity but they also learn universal principles regarding the laws of nature. Chapter 8 specifies one day in particular when Mr. Patel makes it a point to teach his boys the following:
"Life will defend itself no matter how small it is. Every animal is ferocious and dangerous" (38).
Mr. Patel says these lines to the boys after using a hungry tiger eating a goat to demonstrate how dangerous tigers are. The object lesson is so intense that the boys are sure not to forget to stay away from tigers, which seems to be the main idea behind the tiger/goat demonstration. This lesson doesn't teach Pi to stay away from tigers, though, because common sense and growing up at the zoo have already done that for him. Pi explains this point as follows:
"I would like to say in my own defense that though I may have anthropomorphized the animals till they spoke fluent English . . . I never deluded myself as to the real nature of my playmates. My poking nose had more sense than that. I don't know where Father got the idea that his youngest son was itching to step into a cage with a ferocious carnivore. But wherever the strange worry came from--and Father was a worrier--he was clearly determined to rid himself of it that very morning" (34).
The knowledge and skills that Pi uses to keep him safe and coexisting with a tiger on the lifeboat are not necessarily the same ones that he learns from his father in chapter 8. Pi employs knowledge and understanding of animals' sense of territory, along with their predictable behaviors in the wild and captivity, to help him train the tiger, and take control of his life-threatening situation while alone at sea. Therefore, other than driving home the point to respect a tiger's strength and ferocity, the object lesson of the tiger and the goat doesn't do much to help Pi years later on the lifeboat. Pi actually uses the knowledge he obtains from reading and learning about animals on a daily basis to help him to survive his days at sea with a tiger.