Because Pi's father owns the Pondicherry Zoo in India, Pi learns a lot about many different animals. One lesson that Pi learns while living and working in a zoo during his childhood is that "animals are territorial" (17). This lesson serves him well when he is stuck on a lifeboat with a man-eating tiger in the middle of the ocean. He learns about and understands enclosures, cages, pits, moats and how animals respond when their territories are invaded. He also learns the difference between caged animals and wild animals--each behaves differently, for instance, in different surroundings.
In chapter 8, Pi discusses that zookeepers believe that man is the most dangerous animal. This belief foreshadows man's behavior on the lifeboat later on as well. In the zoo, for example, people would feed the animals "ballpoint pens, paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands, combs, coffee spoons, horseshoes, pieces of broken glass, rings, brooches," etc. (29). People also torment animals in zoos, which cause many deaths as well. As a result, the Pondicherry Zoo had a wall by the ticket booth that had written on it, "Do you know which is the most dangerous animal in the zoo?" (31). Underneath a curtain next to the words was a mirror. This lesson becomes a hard fact when Pi meets the Cook on the lifeboat.
The next and most important lesson Pi learns from his father is the following:
"Life will defend itself no matter how small it is. Every animal is ferocious and dangerous" (38).
This lesson is given right after Pi and his brother Ravi witness a tiger that attacks and eats a goat. Pi's mother was against the object lesson, but his father wanted to show them the great strength of a tiger and so the boys would never forget how wild animals really are. Pi's father also did this to hopefully save their lives one day if they ever find themselves face-to-face with any wild animal.
Other lessons that influenced Pi's upbringing are the ones he learned from Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Unbeknownst to his parents and spiritual leaders, Pi joins and practices all three religions. As an Indian, he pretty much grows up a Hindu; but, he discovers Christianity in chapter 17 and Islam in chapter 18. By chapter 23, Pi is busted as leaders from each religion speak to Pi and his parents at a combined meeting. To interrupt the arguing adults, Pi says, "Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God," (69). Not only is this profound to all who hears it, but this shows Pi's complete devotion and faith to God. This faith provides him with strength later on as he is forced to survive seven months at sea on a lifeboat.