VANCOUVER -- In just 48 hours, an animal rescue group raised thousands more than its fundraising goal, allowing the facility to open in time for one of its busiest seasons.

The Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMRC) issued a public plea for funds earlier this week, saying it needed about $125,000 ahead of seal pup season.

Ocean Wise, a non-profit conservation association, asked for donations, saying even with federal funding, it needed more money to be able to care for the animals it rescues.

Any amount was welcome, the group said, but those willing to chip in at least $1,000 would be given the opportunity to name one of the seal pups in its care over the summer.

The majority of the MMRC's funding comes from donations made by visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium, which has been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada committed to $195,000 toward the centre's operating costs, but the MMRC estimated it would need thousands more to be able to care for seals, porpoises, otters, turtles, sea lions and other creatures that pass through the centre each year.

But on Wednesday, it shared some good news with supporters: "The urgent 'yelp for help' was answered."

In an emailed statement, the MMRC said more than 1,500 donors rose to the occasion. Donations were made from Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., Ocean Wise said.

About $157,000 was raised in less than 48 hours – a total greater than the facility's goal, and enough to allow it to resume operations immediately.

"We are truly humbled by the outpouring of support and we're ready to leap into action," MMRC manager Lindsaye Akhurst said in the statement.

Still, the facility that typically rehabilitates and releases between 100 and 200 harbour seal pups a year says it could use more help.

The MMRC says its fundraising goal was to cover the base costs to reopen and operate, but any additional money raised will help cover expenses including veterinary expertise, medication, support services staff and emergency rescue needs.

There are at least 34 "seal pup naming opportunities" still available for donors willing to give $1,000, and donations of $35 or more mean the donor can "adopt" a seal.

Ocean Wise says 46 donors so far have given at least $1,000, and will be naming some of the seals brought to the facility this season.