YOUNG delegates have taken their campaign to end the captivity of orca whales all the way to the European Parliament.

Ten year six pupils, from Devonshire Road Primary School in Heaton, travelled to Brussels last Wednesday to lobby MEPs to highlight the plight of killer whales and dolphins kept in captivity.

The children studied captive killer whales in a literacy project and were at first wowed by the animals' antics in sea parks.

However, after learning that some of the whales were part of breeding programmes and had been captured and lived in enclosures, their view on the subject soon changed.

After shunning a trip to SeaWorld in America, the children set their sights on a visit to European Parliament instead and after being inspired by the film documentary Blackfish they contacted their local North West MEPs and were invited to Brussels by MEP Sajid Karim.

The youngest ever visitors to EU parliament took part in the launch event of Dolphinaria-Free Europe, a coalition of European animal welfare organisations and wildlife professionals.

The confident youngsters produced and performed an emotional poem for MEPs, in which children took turns speaking in the voice of a captive orca, and put their questions to MEPs and orca scientists.

Mr Karim said: "I am very impressed by the time and effort put into the project by such a bright group of pupils. It shows that raising awareness on an issue can result in something getting done about it.

"I hope they understand that they can make a real difference to the things they care about most and one day I'd like to see some of them where I am now."

Reflecting on the trip pupil Zena Robson, aged 11, said: “I felt like I really achieved something and made a difference. "

Blake Mara, aged 11, who also took part in the project, said: "I never thought that our work would take us all the way to Brussels, but I am glad it did."

Simon Hunt, year six teacher, said: "It still doesn't seem real what the children have actually achieved.

"As their teacher I am so proud of them and how brave they were.

"They are the youngest ever visitors to be allowed in EU parliament and the law actually had to be changed to allow them to go.

"It's been great especially from a teachers point of view because it is hard to get children to have a passion for something but now that they have seen what can happen, I think they have realised what they can do if they put their minds to it."