Pi explains in chapter 1 that he feels "shattered" as he begins working on his zoology thesis. He decides to study the three-toed sloth because its nature is "calm, quiet and introspective," qualities he needs to soothe his own "sad and gloomy" state.
Pi goes on to describe the three-toed sloth in great detail, using literary techniques like personification to portray a reverence for the creature. He explains that the sloth's hair "shelters" an algae that is brown during the dry season and green during the wet season; this helps it become camouflaged in its environment so that it simply looks like part of a tree. The verb choice is intentional, conveying an intentionality on behalf of the sloth and reflecting a sense of awe regarding its survival skills.
The three-toed sloth is also described as an embodiment of the meditative and prayerful characteristics of yogis. Like those with deep spiritual connections, Pi believes that three-toed sloths are "imaginative" creatures whose abilities are beyond the limits of scientific studies.
This personification demonstrates a reverence for a creature so perfectly created. It exists in peace, maintaining a slow and steady pace that eludes predators who seek a quick chase. Pi feels a reverence toward the three-toed sloth, recognizing it as a "beautiful example of the miracle of life" and using personification to demonstrate its harmonious and tranquil nature, which he deeply admires.