Tuesday, July 2 at 10:30 am. Do you think that Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and American astronaut John Glenn were first into space? Think again! A little dog name Laika was the first animal to orbit the earth. Dogs, cats, monkeys, and chimps were used to test the safety of launching a living being into space and bringing it back to earth unharmed. Features a variety of live mammals, reptiles, and birds. All ages.