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Tai Shan came after officials tried unsuccessfully for decades to mate the District’s first pair of pandas. During 20 years together at the zoo, Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling produced five cubs but none of them survived.

Tai Shan, who became wildly popular with zoo visitors, was supposed to be sent to China two years after he was born, but he got an extension and was sent back to China in February 2010.

Smithsonian Institution figures show that in 2005, 1.8 million people visited the zoo compared with 2.6 million visitors after Tai Shan went on display in 2006.

National Zoo officials anticipate swelling crowds when the latest cub, whose gender has yet to be announced, makes its public debut in a few months. The zoo also has two newborn Sumatran tiger cubs and an adult elephant introduced this summer.

“Any time we have new animals or a major new exhibit, we see an increase in attendance,” zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said.

The new panda was supposed to be a twin, but the day after its birth Mei Xiang delivered a stillborn cub. Panda keepers have tried several times to examine the cub after its first checkup two days after it was born, but Mei Xiang has prevented them from reaching the cub, an action they credit as a sign of good parenting.

Ms. Baker-Masson said the giant panda keepers are thrilled at the zoo’s newest addition and the way in which Mei Xiang is nurturing the newborn, but “what happened last September is not lost on them.”

Mei Xiang also gave birth last year, and veterinarians chose to monitor mother and baby via video cameras in her den rather than examine the cub firsthand. Six days after the cub was born, it died from what zoo officials later determined to be underdeveloped lungs and liver damage.

“The fact that we lost a cub last September has made the panda team more anxious,” Ms. Baker-Masson said. “We’re all new parents.”