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14 Animals That Changed the World

Laika, the Space Dog

Laika lived a much more interesting life than most people, and her legacy remains strong to this day. Born in the cold streets of Moscow as a stray, she was selected as a canine cosmonaut for the Soviet Space Program. The program specifically selected Muscovite street dogs because they were smart and hardy (indeed, the city's strays have since learned to commute on the subways). She was launched into space on Sputnik 2 in 1957, becoming the first animal ever to orbit the Earth. Sadly, it was a one way trip, and she died from overheating hours into the mission. People remember her not only as a space pioneer, but as a poster girl for preventing animal abuse in science.

Tags: history, animals, slideshows, nature, books-and-comics, the roman empire

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Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

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