The Tennessee Aquarium has been given accreditation - the "gold standard," officials say - by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
"I look upon this accreditation as the gold standard," said Jackson Andrews, director of operations and husbandry at the downtown fish tank.
The association requires zoos and aquariums to be reaccredited every five years in order to "meet ever-rising standards" of animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety, according to the release.
The aquarium has received the accreditation since its second year of operation in 1993, Mr. Andrews said. Between 215 and 220 zoos or aquariums are accredited nationwide, Mr. Andrews said.
Aquarium spokesman Thom Benson said inspectors from the association came to the downtown attraction in December.
"They spent two days here and went through our building with a fine-tooth comb," Mr. Andrews said.
Once management at the aquarium submitted their report and the inspectors submitted theirs, the AZA's 12-person accreditation committee approved the application.
"Overall, they had pretty glowing comments," Mr. Benson said.
Mr. Andrews, who serves on the accreditation committee, said it didn't take the board long to make its decision after asking him to step into the hall.
"I was out of the room for about two minutes," he said.