While wood "slit" drums probably originated independently in various cultures, the branded "GATO" drum was first made in the mid 1970's. I purchased one at Elderly Instruments in East Lansing Michigan in 1976 or 77. I do remember "patent pending" burned in the wood underneath the name - and found this in the US Patent database:
Patent number: 4137815Filing date: Mar 14, 1977Issue date: Feb 6, 1979
This google link contains the patent summary, as well as drawings:
This is definitely the Gato drum. It doesn't appear to be currently manufactured in the hardwood form that I remember.
You can find cheap versions sold as children's percussion instruments - see for example
Other people asked questions on similar topics, check out the answers they received:
Other people asked questions on various topics, and are still waiting for answer. Would be great if you can take a sec and answer them