NEW YORK - New York's Bronx Zoo is debuting a snow leopard cub sired by Leo, the animal that became famous when he was rescued as a young orphaned cub from the high mountains of northern Pakistan.

Leo has been serving as an ambassador for Pakistan at the Bronx Zoo since 2006, when a ground-breaking agreement between Pakistan and the United States brought Leo to New York City.

Now, Leo's cub, his first, was born on April 9 to mother Maya. The male cub has not yet been named.

"The rescue of Leo as a cub, conducted by two nations, the continued global interest in him, and now the story of his first offspring shows the power of the connections between humans and nature," zoo director Jim Breheny said.

The birth of Leo's first cub has received welcoming comments from the United States and Pakistan governments. The statements emphasise the positive influence wildlife and conservation can have in the world of diplomacy between nations.

 Leo survived both the loss of his parents and the Pakistani earthquake in 2005. He was found in the snow-hit north of the country by a shepherd who hand-fed him to keep him alive.

The snow leopard is one of the world's most endangered big cat species. Leo - one of only a few thousand snow leopards left in the wild - was found by the shepherd in the mountains of north Pakistan in July 2005.  The shepherd's family cared for the animal for several months, but he grew too big, and was handed over to the authorities.

He could not be returned to the wild because he did not have the opportunity to learn essential survival skills from his mother.  Nadeem Hotiana, the press attache at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, said that his country had decided to send Leo to the Bronx Zoo because it lacked an “appropriate facility” to care for the orphaned cub.

In Pakistan, the Wildlife Conservation Society has worked with local officials on a number of conservation efforts, training more than 100 rangers to monitor snow leopards and other wildlife and to stop deforestation and poaching, according to a media report.

“While Leo is on loan to the Bronx Zoo, we hope that his presence in the United States and ongoing bilateral cooperation on conservation efforts will help deepen the links between the people of Pakistan and the United States,” Richard G Olson, the US ambassador to Pakistan, said in a statement.