Chapter 8 is when Pi's father gives him a lesson that he never forgets. Against his mother's wishes, Pi's father takes the whole family down to Mahisha's (the Bengal tiger) enclosure where a goat is provided as dinner. When they arrive, Mahisha lets out a roar and a snarl that makes Pi tremble with fear. Pi's father reassures his wife that this is for the benefit of the children. He explains to the boys that they are never to touch a tiger, ever. Then, the tiger, who has not been fed in three days, is shown the goat. Pi turns away and into his mother's arms while the attack happens, but he can still hear everything that is going on. "It was enough to scare the living vegetarian daylights out of me," says Pi (36).
Next, Pi's father discusses other wild animals that they have in the zoo and how each one can hurt a human being. For example, sloths and bears can hurt with claws; hippos can outrun a human on land and snap bones with their mouths; hyenas will eat a person alive; orang-utans can snap bones with their strong arms; an ostrich can kick and crush a spine or torso; a deer has antlers to stay away from; and even swans can crack a skull.
When Pi asks about an elephant, his father says that they are the "most dangerous animal of all. More keepers and visitors are killed by elephants than by any other animal in a zoo" (38). He explains further that trampling and dismembering are both possibilities when dealing with a raving elephant.
The moral of the lesson is as follows:
"Don't think they're harmless. Life will defend itself no matter how small it is. Every animal is ferocious and dangerous. It may not kill you, but it will certainly injure you" (38).