is Perl a good place to start (not necessarily the end all) learning the principles of OOP in general?
Not Perl 5*. The Perl 5 OO model is, to put it nicely, messy. It also isn't representative of the many other OO models out there. I would strongly recommend Ruby for your purpose. Stay away from the bloat that is Java unless you want to put it on your resume.
You should also consider that there really isn't much fundamentally different about object-oriented programming. It's not as if all the algorithms you've ever learned will stop working. It also isn't the best solution to all (or most for that matter) problems. Ensure you have a good foundation before moving on to buzzword-hyped methods.
*Perl 6 appears to fix a great deal of the problems.
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