A hungry bundle of fluff named Molloko, the only California condor chick conceived in captivity, gobbled minced mice Saturday, and keepers of the endangered species were encouraged by its appetite.

The newly hatched chick, which raised the condor population to 28, ate its first meal from the fingertips of a handler at 6 a.m. and ate again at hourly intervals, said Martha Baker, spokeswoman for the San Diego Wild Animal Park."The chick was hungry and ate everything it was offered," Baker said. "Everyone seems very pleased with the progress of the chick. But the first 10 days are critical, for anybody, human or animal."

The chick's diet was a combination of minced baby mice and chicken egg yolk, she said. The meals fed to the chick, which is slightly larger than a person's fist, amounted to about two tablespoons of food each time.

The chick will be reared by keepers using a hand puppet that resembles an adult condor. The puppet is used to feed the chick and help it identify with its species.

U.S. Interior Secretary Donald Hodel congratulated the Wild Animal Park staff for the successful hatching.