The National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, now casually known as Fermilab, was built between 1967 and 1972. The first accelerator built was a tube shaped into a ring four miles long. The scientists working there bought a ferret in 1971, a small creature named Felicia, hoping that she would run through the tube.
The NAL staff doted on Felicia, feeding her chicken, liver, fish heads, and raw hamburger—her favorite. Some employees even took Felicia to their home for the night when the mink farm she generally bunked at had no room for her.
Now, I don't want to spoil the story, which is quite interesting, but I will assure you that they did not bombard Felicia with accelerated particles. And the "tried" part of the title is a little misleading, because they really did put a ferret in Fermilab's particle accelerator.
(Image credit: Fermilab)