Abstract. Animism is the label given to worldviews in which the world is understood to be a community of living persons, only some of whom are human. (An older use of the term to label a putative “belief in spirits” is less useful.) Animists inculcate locally meaningful means of communicating with other-than-human persons, especially in order to express respect. Ethnographic accounts of particular animist ways of engaging with animal persons are noted. I argue that ethologists interested in engaging respectfully with animals while researching cognition, behavior, and other critical issues may find their research methods and results enhanced by learning from animists about tested methods of communicating with animals. The mediation of animists in this communicative engagement between animals and those who research among them is proposed not as a romantic gloss on modernist culture but in full recognition that the challenge offered by dialogue with marginalized and excluded “others” may result in a reconfiguration of academic protocols. Nonetheless, this entry into full relationality is seriously posed as an improved means of achieving established goals of understanding animals, humans, and the world we coinhabit.