Richard Parker is actually a 450 pound, male Bengal tiger who escaped the sinking of the ship. Pi helped the tiger climb on board the lifeboat, knowing that man and tiger won't necessarily co-exist. When Pi's lifeboat finally drifted across the Pacific and grounded itself on the Mexican shores, Richard Parker jumped from the boat and scampered off into the jungle without so much as looking back. There he could find the food and water he desperately needs to survive. At the end of the story, no trace of Richard Parker was ever found. The reader is left to ponder which story Pi told was the real one.