Richard Parker's name should have been "Thirsty." The way Richard Parker, the tiger, gets his name is a funny story. In fact, Pi reports that "Father had a good chuckle over the mix-up and Richard Parker's name had stuck."
Supposedly it is the hunter that was named Richard Parker. Richard Parker is originally hired to hunt and kill a deadly panther that is terrorizing the province. It is a female tiger with a cub who shows up instead. The hunter is amazed when the cub doesn't go for the bait but runs right to the water to take a drink. The hunter tranquilizes the large tiger and picks up the cub. Remembering how the cub ran to the river to drink, the hunter named the cub "Thirsty." The error was due to the shipping clerk at the train station in charge of the paperwork as the cub was transported to the zoo.
All the papers we received with the cub clearly stated that its name was Richard Parker, that the hunter's first name was Thirsty and that his family name was None Given. ... I don't know if Thirsty None Given ever got the man-eating panther.
The tiger, Richard Parker, should have been named Thirsty. This was because of a "clerical error" (ch. 48) as the tiger cub was transported to the zoo.
A hunter was hired to kill a panther that was terrorizing a Bangladeshi village. However instead of the panther, the hunter finds a female tiger and its cub. He tranquilizes the mother. He takes the cub and names it Thirsty, "remembering how it had rushed to drink in the river". (ch. 48)