Pi is a young man living in Pondicherry, India. His father owns a zoo, and he has an older brother and mother. His father is soon to move the family and a few animals by boat.
The boat sinks during a storm, Pi's family is nowhere to be found, and many animals were thrown by the crew onto the lifeboat because they were dangerous.
After a bit of time, a dangerous hyena on the boat kills both the zebra and orangutan on board. Pi discovers that a deadly tiger named Richard Parker is hidden in an area of the lifeboat, and Richard Parker kills the hyena.
Pi and Richard Parker arrive at an island, but all is not as it seems and the island turns out to be a dangerous, carniverous mass of algae.
Pi reaches Mexico and is rescued by a village of local people. Richard Parker runs off into the forest and is never found again.
Pi is interviewed to infer how the ship he was on sank. He is also given insurance money, and the book ends with him concluding his unlikely situation.